Medical staff treating COVID-19 patients told to vacate homes

AIIMS doctors issue appeal to Health Ministry over harassment by landlords

March 25, 2020 12:14 am | Updated 12:14 am IST - NEW DELHI

Medical staff from across India working with COVID-19 patients appealed to the Union Health Ministry for help on Tuesday stating that they are being harassed, with several of them told to immediately vacate their rented accommodation by landlords because of the fear that they could spread the virus.

The Resident Doctors’ Association of All India Institute of Medical Sciences has written to the Ministry seeking urgent intervention.

“Doctors, nurses and other hospital staff involved in COVID-19 care are being asked to vacate their rented homes for the fear that they may spread the virus. Many doctors are now stranded on the road with their luggage with nowhere to go. This is happening across the country and we condemn such attitude and seek urgent intervention. Also with the lockdown in place, not enough public transport is available for hospital staff to travel from their residence to various hospitals,” said the letter.

Ministers react quickly

Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan tweeted expressing deep anguish, saying he noticed such reports pouring in from Delhi, Noida, Warangal, Chennai, etc., and asked people not to panic. He said all precautions are being taken by doctors and staff on COVID-19 duty to ensure they are not carriers of infection in any way.

“Any harsh steps will demoralise them, derail the system. On Sunday, the nation applauded their selfless service. It’s our duty to keep their morale high,” Mr. Vardhan said.

Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh also tweeted in support of the doctors. “The Centre must immediately step in to ensure protection of doctors and paramedics, who are putting their lives on the line for our sake, from such harassment. Necessary protective gear should also be provided for their safety,” he said.

AIIMS RDA general secretary Srinivas Rajkumar said Home Minister Amit Shah has assured that any such issue of ostracisation will be taken seriously and action taken immediately.

Help pours in

After AIIMS doctors issued an appeal for help in procuring personal protection gear for medical staff and released a list of equipment immediately required, help started pouring in on Tuesday itself. “After our communication with the Health Ministry, several people and companies have offered support through various possible means,” noted a statement issued by the RDA.

It added that to help the AIIMS administration fast-track COVID-19 preparedness, public sector unit Bharat Dynamics has come forward to help with manufacturing, funds and logistics. “We have secured the AIIMS administration a sum of Rs. 60 lakh from the CSR corpus of Bharat Dynamics (Rs.50 lakh) and POSCO India Pvt Ltd. (Rs.10 lakh). We also asked the chairman of Preventive Wear Manufacturers’ Association of India to show the samples and enable easy availability,” said Dr. Rajkumar. “We are extremely thankful to all those who extended support to battle the pandemic,” the AIIMS RDA general secretary added.

The Delhi Health Department has said that legal action will be taken against those obstructing essential work.

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