Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan on Tuesday condemned the ostracism of doctors and paramedics from residential colonies in various cities over fears of contracting the novel coronavirus. Vardhan said he was “deeply anguished” by the news.
The health minister in a tweet said that he had come across several news reports of doctors facing eviction threats from their residential colonies in Delhi, Noida, Warangal and Chennai. “Landlords are threatening to evict them fearing Covid-19 infection,” he said. “Please don’t panic.”
He assured the public that all necessary precautions are being taken by medical officials who are treating Covid-19 patients to ensure that they do not contract the infection. “Any harsh steps will demoralise them, derail the system,” he said. “On Sunday, [the] nation applauded their selfless services. It’s our bounden duty to keep their morale high.”
The resident doctors of All India Institute of Medical Sciences in national capital Delhi, too, condemned the harassment of doctors and demanded the intervention of Union Home Minister Amit Shah seeking directions to the police to take “appropriate action” against the eviction of healthcare professionals.
“Many doctors are now stranded on the roads with all their luggage, nowhere to go, across the country,” president of the AIIMS Association of Resident Doctors, Adarsh Pratap Singh, said in a letter.
They further demanded that prohibitory orders be imposed on landlords from evicting doctors from their rented houses and urged that suitable transport arrangements at the time of a nationwide lockdown also be made. “We request you to arrange proper transport for the healthcare providers across the country and direct the police and involved security administration to allow them to travel hassle free upon producing their Identity Cards,” it said.
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal also expressed concern over the growing incidents of forced evictions of doctors treating Covid-19 patients. “On the request of Prime Minister [Narendra Modi] we clapped for our doctors, nurses and others who are giving essential services,” he said in a tweet on Tuesday. “But now, I am getting information that a landlord has forcefully evicted a nurse.”
Kejriwal cited reports of pilots and air hostesses facing harassment and being denied entry into their residential colonies and said: “This is not right. These people are risking their lives for us and we are behaving in this way. We should change this mindset.”
Budget carrier IndiGo on Monday said many of its employees were facing a tough time in their respective hometowns for their “line of duty and travel history” amid the coronavirus outbreak. IndiGo is the second airline, after Air India, to report such instances in the last two days. Both the airlines had sent their crew to bring back stranded Indians from coronavirus-hit countries like China, Italy and Iran.
Meanwhile, an unidentified official of the home ministry told PTI that Shah has taken cognizance of the matter and has asked Delhi Police Commissioner SN Shrivastava to ensure security of doctors. The home minister spoke to the Delhi Police commissioner and asked him to take immediate action to stop any such incident, the official added.