Visit Global Voices' special coverage on the global impact of COVID-19.
Since March 24, the mandatory quarantine to control the spread of the coronavirus is in force in the second most populous country in the world. In this context, the fear of massive community contagion has led to stigmatization of the very people who are dedicated to fighting the virus: health professionals.
Doctors are already concerned about working in facilities with few staff and less supplies and equipment, and now public attacks are added. The media is filling up with headlines reporting stone attacks and marginalization of health professionals.
India's biggest problem is shortage of safety gear for health workers. “If we can't protect our doctors, Shame on us” @RojerNath, Association of Medical devices, tells #Mojo. He calls for Army & garment Cos to help. Says “Police beating our workers & truckers” # Preview of my intvw pic.twitter.com/PQPeoDPnm6
– barkha dutt (@BDUTT) April 1, 2020
The most serious problem in India is the shortage of safety equipment for health workers. “If we cannot protect our doctors, we are a disgrace,” says Roger Nath of the Association of Medical Devices to Mojo. Ask for help from the Army and clothing suppliers. And it says: “The Police beat our workers and carriers.” Preview of my interview.
This discrimination was triggered by fear that health workers caring for COVID-19 positive patients will spread the virus within their communities and residential complexes. Homeowners and housing associations have gone to the extreme of evicting them from their homes, and some have been forced to sleep in hospitals. The AIIMS Association of Resident Doctors (All India Institute of Medical Sciences), located in Delhi, had to write a letter to the Home Office asking for help against discrimination and forced eviction suffered by doctors across the country.
Indian health professionals demand secure residence and transport facilities during the lockdown.@PMOIndia @MoHFW_INDIA @drharshvardhan @AmitShahOffice @nitin_gadkari @narendramodi @HindustanTimes @the_hindu @timesofindia @NavbharatTimes @aajtak pic.twitter.com/UDBVRmKcI8
– RDAAIIMS (@AIIMSRDA) March 24, 2020
Indian health professionals demand safe residence and transportation during quarantine.
– Sanjibani Panigrahi (@DrSanjibani) March 23, 2020
Too many incidents are coming to light where noble medical men are threatened not to enter their own homes. Please take this problem seriously. Regards. A public doctor.
I am a public doctor myself, and my association has threatened me. Please, Narendra Modi, help me.
In addition to threats at home, verbal and physical attacks on health workers have increased in India. Recently, a team of professionals was attacked while carrying out sampling in an area called Taat Patti Bakhal in the city of Indore. During the incident, two doctors were thrown to the ground after asking a woman who had contact with a COVID-19 patient to accompany them to the hospital for tests.
#WATCH Madhya Pradesh: Locals of Tatpatti Bakhal in Indore pelt stones at health workers who were there to screen people, in wake of #Coronavirus outbreak. A case has been registered. (Note-Abusive language) (1.04.2020) pic.twitter.com/vkfOwYrfxK
– ANI (@ANI) April 1, 2020
Madhya Pradesh: Tatpatti Bakhal people in Indore throw stones at health workers on site to examine people, given the coronavirus pandemic. An incident was recorded. (Note: There is foul language) (1.04.2020)
The video went viral and users immediately turned to Twitter and Instagram to condemn the attack:
Sad to see that Millions are quarantined inside their homes trying 2break the corona chain while many are going hungry due 2the lockdown.Then there are those breaking quarantine & pelting stones on Cops & doctors who are working without proper PPE. Whats happening to India? 🇮🇳#Sad
– Preity G Zinta (@realpreityzinta) April 2, 2020
Sad to see that there are millions quarantining their homes to cut the coronavirus spread chain while others go hungry due to the stoppage of activities. And now, there are those who stone police and doctors who work without proper equipment. What about India?
Epitome of madness. Health workers come under violent attack in Indore. They were screening residents for signs of #Coronavirus Two women doctors injured. If people keep attacking Doctors, soon medics will be unwilling to do their job and then we will suffer without treatment. pic.twitter.com/fn06vS7ddA
– Rahul Kanwal (@rahulkanwal) April 2, 2020
The epitome of insanity: Health workers receive violent attacks in Indore. They were examining the inhabitants for symptoms of coronavirus. Two doctors were injured. If people continue to attack doctors, at any moment they will refuse to continue with their work and we will be without medical attention.
Claps to Slaps .. #moronavirus Apni jaan bachaye ki patients ki ..
urgent need for doctor's safety. Aftr discrimination lik don't enter shops, don't use lift & now stone pelting… Mindset needs to be changed .. @BDUTT @drkamnakakkar @DrRebellious https://t.co/KYJL1antqV
– Gopal Chawla (@drgchawla) April 1, 2020
From applause to slapping: “Idiotavirus”.
Urgent: Safety is needed for doctors. After the discrimination, such as not letting them enter stores, not using elevators, and now they throw stones at them? That mentality has to be changed.
Attacks on doctors have reportedly increased since mid-March: Doctors in Hyderabad reported that relatives of a patient who died of COVID-19 due to comorbidity had attacked doctors.
Assault of Doctors in Telangana treating COVID patients.
Appeal to @MoHFW_INDIA @AmitShahOffice @PMOIndia to provide safety to frontline warrier in this COVID-19 pandemic.
Immediate need of Central law on violence against doctor.#stopviolencetodoctors@TOIIndiaNews @the_hindu. pic.twitter.com/dRH6BujRWB
– RDAAIIMS (@AIIMSRDA) April 2, 2020
In Telangana they attack doctors who treat COVID patients.
Request to the Indian authorities to guarantee security to the front line of the fight against this COVID-19 pandemic.
First you dont provide PPE, doctors and nurses beg you for weeks for them yet you remain ignorant, and when there is no option left with doctors and nurses but to preserve themselves then you do this@ AvtarSi62019107 @ suraiya95 @ManojTiwariMP @VijayGoelBJP @docvjg @MoHFW_INDIA pic.twitter.com/qy1xwcG4RE
– Dr Sanjeev Choudhary (@drsanjeevindian) April 1, 2020
First, they don't give them safety equipment, the doctors and nurses are pleading to give them the materials for weeks and ignore them, and when they have no choice but to take care of themselves, they do this to them.
Fear of the virus continues to create panic, and other workers also experience discrimination. Airline staff, some who worked on repatriation flights for stranded citizens in Wuhan, Italy and Iran, also appear to be being stigmatized.
With the cases of people mistreating those who are waging the battle against COVID-19, the question arises as to whether the Government has the capacity to protect people who risk their lives to protect the health of India.