In a bid to boost the morale of doctors treating Coronavirus patients amid attacks on health workers, the Central government on Wednesday introduced an ordinance making such offences as non-bailable carrying an imprisonment ranging from 6 months to 7 years if anyone is found guilty.

Terming the attacks on those trying to save the country from the Coronavirus pandemic as “unfortunate”, Union Minister Prakash Javadekar at a media briefing today asserted that “no incident of violence or harassment against health workers will be tolerated”.

The ordinance will be implemented after the President’s sanction, the minister informed.

An amendment will be made to the Epidemic Diseases Act, 1897 and an ordinance will be implemented, Javadekar said adding that such crimes will now be cognizable and non-bailable.

An investigation will be carried out in such cases within 30 days and the accused can be sentenced from three months to 5 years and penalised from Rs 50,000 up to Rs 2 Lakh.

In case of grievous injuries, the accused can be sentenced from 6 months to 7 years and fined from Rs 1 Lakh up to Rs 5 Lakh, the minister said.

If any damage is done to the vehicles or clinics of healthcare workers, then a compensation amounting to twice the market value of the damaged property will be taken from the accused.

The tough measures come as several cases of violence against doctors and health workers have emerged from various parts of the country.

Doctors have come forward welcoming the Government’s move saying that it must be implement even after the pandemic is controlled.

Earlier in the day, Union Home Minister Amit Shah urged doctors to not even hold a symbolic protest and assured them of security amid attacks on healthcare workers handling COVID-19 cases across the country.

Amit Shah along with Union Health Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan and other officials interacted with doctors and the Indian Medical Association (IMA) through video conferencing today.

The Government also assured the doctors of full support and security.

The call comes two days after the IMA demanded a special central law on violence against doctors, nurses, health care workers, and hospitals by an ordinance.

The medical body in a letter dated April 20 had stated that all doctors and hospitals will observe a ‘white alert’ at 9 pm on April 22, wherein, the healthcare workers will light a candle as protest and vigil.

The IMA also called for the implementation of a central law on violence against doctors, failing to which, it said April 23 would be declared as a ‘Black Day’, wherein, all doctors in the country will work with black badges.