Coronavirus | Don’t discriminate against COVID-19 patients, health workers: Health Ministry

It says healthcare workers, doctors, nursing staff and police are tirelessly rendering their services in this situation of crisis

Published - April 08, 2020 07:57 pm IST - NEW DELHI

Doctors help each others to wear PPE suit before proceeding to check patients at a municipal school in Magazaon, Mumbai on April 8, 2020.

Doctors help each others to wear PPE suit before proceeding to check patients at a municipal school in Magazaon, Mumbai on April 8, 2020.

The Union Health Ministry on Wednesday issued an advisory asking people not to discriminate against COVID-19 patients, healthcare workers, sanitary workers and the police who are at the forefront in the fight against the pandemic.

Also read | ‘Heat is not a deterrent for transmission’: Your COVID-19 queries answered

Stating that the outbreak of communicable diseases might cause fear and anxiety leading to prejudices, the Ministry said such behaviour could lead to increased hostility, chaos and unnecessary social disruptions.

“Cases have been reported of people affected with COVID-19, as well as healthcare workers, sanitary workers and police, who are in the frontline for management of the outbreak, facing discrimination on account of heightened fear and misinformation about infection,” it said, adding that even the recovered patients were being ill-treated.

False reports

“Further, certain communities and areas are being labelled purely based on false reports floating in social media and elsewhere,” said the Ministry, stating that there was an urgent need to counter such prejudices.

Also read | Affected districts increased from 62 to 257 in a span of 15 days

The Ministry said people needed to understand that although COVID-19 was a highly contagious disease, they could protect themselves through social distancing, washing their hands regularly and following sneezing/coughing etiquettes.

“Despite all precautions, if anybody catches the infection, it is not their fault. In situation of distress, the patient and the family need support and cooperation. It must be noted that the condition is curable and most people recover from it,” it said.

Also read | ICMR study shows one person not following lockdown can infect 406 in 30 days: Health Ministry

The Ministry said the healthcare workers, including doctors and nursing staff, were tirelessly rendering their services in this situation of crisis. “Sanitary workers and police are also doing selfless service and playing critical roles ... they all deserve our support, praise and appreciation,” said the statement.

All those directly involved in the management of COVID-19 are equipped with appropriate protective equipment to keep them safe from the infection. Targeting essential services providers and their families will weaken our fight against COVID-19 and can prove grievously detrimental for the entire nation, said the Ministry.

Also read |India’s efforts to combat COVID-19 has been lauded globally: PM Modi

Dos and Don’ts

The Ministry also released a list of dos and don’ts, stating that people should appreciate the efforts of those providing essential services, and should be supportive to them and their families.

They should share only the authentic information available on government websites and that of the World Health Organisation (WHO), cross-check any information related to COVID-19 from reliable sources before forwarding it on the social media, and share positive stories of those who have recovered.

Also read | Use more masks, India's top science advisory body recommends

People have also been advised against spreading names or identity of those affected or under quarantine or their locality on the social media. They should avoid spreading fear and panic or targeting healthcare, sanitary workers and the police, and avoid labelling any community or area for the spread of the virus. Avoid addressing those under treatment as COVID-19 victims, said the Ministry.

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