Protection for protectors: On safety of healthcare workers-THE HINDU-24-04-2020
Since the first case of novel coronavirus infection in India was reported in end-January, many healthcare workers have been subjected to abuse and violence in the line of duty. Most of the attacks have been on healthcare personnel sent to localities to collect samples from people who are suspected to have been infected or have come in contact with those who have tested positive for the virus. The dastardly act of a few people in Chennai who not only attacked healthcare workers but also prevented a decent burial of a neurosurgeon who died of COVID-19 complications on April 19 shook the nation’s conscience. Very often, the abuse and violence against healthcare workers after the outbreak of COVID-19 in the country has been due to fear and ignorance.
The communal colour given to the COVID-19 epidemic after the large religious congregation was held in mid-March by the Tablighi Jamaat in Nizamuddin, Delhi initially led many in the community to avoid coming forward to get tested. In many cases, the fear of stigma and isolation resulted in attacks on healthcare workers who had gone to collect samples from those who were part of this congregation. In other instances, the wrong messaging that getting infected by the virus meant certain death, in order to achieve maximum compliance with the shutdown, unwittingly led to a fear psychosis.