Former Congress president Rahul Gandhi on Wednesday said governments were trying to “manage the perceptions” and give a sense that the COVID-19 pandemic “is not as bad as it is”.
In a conversation with four Indian nurses working in New Zealand, Australia, the U.K. and India, Mr. Gandhi asserted that it was important to accept and face the problem to effectively combat it.
Expressing his solidarity on the occasion of Doctors Day, he called the front line health workers as a ‘non-violent Army’.
In the 30-minute conversation with Anu Ragnat (New Zealand), Narendra Singh (Australia), Sherlymol Puravady (U.K.), and Vipin Krishnan (AIIMS, Delhi), he asked about their experiences and the impact on their family lives after working in a COVID-19 environment all the time.
Sharing a conversation he had had with a doctor of a private hospital, Mr. Gandhi claimed that testing was not being allowed in many Delhi hospitals. “One of the doctors I was speaking to in a private hospital was telling me that it becomes impossible for them to work if they cannot test COVID-19 patients. If they don’t know if the patient has COVID or not, they don't know where to put him,” he said.
“The governments are trying to manage the perceptions, they are trying to give a sense that the problem is not as bad as it is. But I believe that we have to face the problem, so we should accept the problem, define the problem accurately and then fight the problem,” he added.
Mr. Krishnan, who tested positive for COVID-19 and has now recovered, expressed concern over the low levels of testing in the face of rising cases, pay cuts faced by nurses in private hospitals and the non-payment of compensation announced by the Delhi government to health workers who died after contracting COVID-19.
“Two nurses have died in Delhi; they were from South India. One X-ray technician. One retired doctor from AIIMS passed away and one serving person in the sanitation department, we lost him unfortunately. However, they are yet to receive the compensation of Rs 1 crore announced by the Delhi government. It is not that we can give some amount of money and equalise the death. It is not that. But at least we should support the families. The government should do something for them,” the AIIMS nurse said.
Mr. Gandhi assured them that he would write a letter to the authorities concerned to expedite the compensation for healthcare workers who died due to COVID-19.
Mr. Krishnan also requested Mr. Gandhi to take up the issue of risk allowance for nurses and doctors as lives were being lost in fighting COVID-19. “We are exhausted and we are fighting in the front line without any fear. We will win. You and the government are with us,” he said.