Doctors in India reiterated on Thursday their demand for personal protection equipment as they are on the frontline in containing the deadly COVID-19.
The request came after a doctor in Delhi, along with his wife and daughter, tested positive for coronavirus and another 800, who visited the doctor, had to be quarantined.
On March 19, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, through a live telecast, addressed the nation asking for a public curfew on March 22.
He also requested the citizens to come out in their balconies and terraces at 5 p.m. (1130GMT) on Sunday to clap, bang utensils or ring bells to express their gratitude to those providing essential services, particularly medical professionals, during the coronavirus crisis.
While his request was taken seriously by the majority of the nation, who clapped and cheered for the doctors, the doctors came out on social media asking the citizens and the government to do more than just applause.
“My main concern is that we, the healthcare professionals, are at the highest risk of getting infected. Many professionals around the world have lost their lives while treating patients.
“Thus I urge the prime minister to provide us with adequate protective gear, like masks, gowns, head covers, etc. A doctor can become a super spreader, patients can get affected. If we remain safe, we will help keep others safe,” Dr. Harjit Singh Bhatti, president of the Progressive Medicos and Scientists Forum, told Anadolu Agency.
“As far as clapping and cheering is concerned, it is good only if we have all the other things we need to perform our job,” added Bhatti, who is also the former head of the Resident Doctors’ Association of the All India Institute of Medical Sciences.
Pointing out a paper published in the medical journal The Lancet, a doctor from the Indian state of Maharashtra stressed that healthcare professionals are overwhelmed and anxious due to the current situation.
“Healthcare workers are not ventilators [you can’t manufacture them], nor wards [you cannot run at full occupancy]. They also need food, rest, emotional and family support. The Lancet edit brings out the problems health workers are running into,” tweeted Dr. SP Kalantri at Sevagram.
On Thursday, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman announced an economic relief package to support citizens through the coronavirus outbreak in India. The package included some $66,000 medical insurance for all the people working in the healthcare sector, including doctors, nurses, paramedics, and even sanitation workers. In an earlier address, PM Modi assured some $20 billion budget for healthcare professionals.
In his address to the government on March 8, a doctor from a medical college in Jammu and Kashmir released a video requesting the government to provide sufficient masks and sanitizers for the staff working in government hospitals in the region. Two days later, Dr. Singh received his transfer letter to a remote area in the region.
“Each hospital here is getting only close to $265 to buy emergency gear against COVID-19. This is far from what a hospital needs. Most doctors are buying their masks and sanitizers, which are being sold at a much higher rate than usual. This is a virus that affects the respiratory tract and I have seen doctors wearing clothes/handkerchiefs as masks.
“If the doctors get infected while treating patients, the infection can then spread to other patients too,” Singh, president of the Doctors’ Association in Jammu, told Anadolu Agency.
After doctors across the union territory condemned his transfer, Singh’s transfer was canceled.
He on Thursday reiterated his earlier demand for adequate masks and sanitizers after the Delhi doctor tested positive.
Doctors asked to vacate their rental homes
Landlords in Delhi are also asking their tenants occupied in the healthcare sector to vacate rental homes out of fear, adding to worries of health workers.
In a letter written to the Union Home Minister, doctors requested proper actions to be taken against the eviction of healthcare professionals from their homes and provision of transport facility during COVID-19.
“Doctors, nurses, and other healthcare workers involved in COVID-19 care are being asked to vacate their rental homes and some have been even forcefully evicted from their temporary residences by landlords due to the fear that the healthcare professionals make them more susceptible to coronavirus infection.
“Many doctors are now stranded on the roads with all their luggage, nowhere to go, across the country,” stated the letter by the Resident Doctors’ Association on Tuesday.
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Wednesday assured doctors that strict action will be taken against the landlords if they evict doctors and they should not be worried, according to local media reports.
After first appearing in Wuhan, China last December, the novel coronavirus has spread to at least 175 countries and regions. The World Health Organization has declared the coronavirus outbreak a pandemic.
The number of confirmed cases worldwide has now surpassed 510,000 while the death toll has crossed 22,900 and over 120,000 have recovered, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University in the U.S.
Italy, China, Iran, and Spain continue to be the most affected countries.
Despite the rising number of cases, most who contract the virus suffer only mild symptoms before making a recovery.Anadolu Agency website contains only a portion of the news stories offered to subscribers in the AA News Broadcasting System (HAS), and in summarized form. Please contact us for subscription options.