Union Home Minister Amit Shah on Wednesday urged the Indian Medical Association (IMA) to withdraw a symbolic protest by doctors against attacks on health workers who are in the frontline of the country’s coronavirus battle.
Calling for a nation-wide ”White Alert”, the doctors’ body had asked doctors and hospitals across the country to light candles today as a protest against such attacks. “Light a candle with white coat. White Alert is only a warning,” the IMA said in a letter addressed to its doctors and hospitals.
Interacting with doctors and the medical association through video-conferencing, along with Health Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan, Shah assured them that the government stands firmly behind the doctors for their safety and that it will do everything possible to protect them, sources in the Union Home Ministry said.
There have been several cases of healthcare workers and police personnel on COVID-19 duty being attacked by mobs in Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh Bihar, and Karnataka.
Amid the rising incidents of violence against healthcare workers, the Indian Medical Association had demanded the government bring in a law on an urgent basis to protect medical professionals. The doctors’ body also warned that they will observe a ”Black Day” if no action is taken by the government and that doctors in the country will work with black badges on April 23.
In a heart-breaking incident in Chennai, an orthopaedic surgeon had to bury his colleague, neurosurgeon Dr Simon Hercules who died of COVID-19, in the middle of the night on Sunday using his bare hands and a shovel at a crematorium with the help of just two hospital ward boys after the undertakers escaped when a mob, alleging that the burial ceremony would spread the infection, attacked their ambulance.
Recently, the body of a doctor from Andhra Pradesh who died from COVID-19 was not allowed at a Chennai crematorium.
In Meghalaya’s Shillong, locals refused to allow the last rites of a 69-year-old doctor who died after contracting coronavirus infection.
Six Inter-Ministerial Central Teams (IMCTs) have been formed by the Centre earlier to assess the situation regarding the violations of the nationwide lockdown, social distancing norms and attack on doctors, and submit a report to the Centre.