The Bihar government on Tuesday issued show-cause notices to as many as 362 doctors in the state for being absent from work without informing amid the escalating coronavirus crisis, NDTV reported. Following the incident, the state’s health department cancelled all leaves of doctors, healthcare workers and paramedic staff until May 31. However, maternity leaves have been exempted from the order.

“All the doctors are from government hospitals which have been working extensively to treat Covid-19 patients,” the state health ministry said in a press release. “From over 37 districts in the state between March 31 to April 12 the doctors were absent from duty.” Action against health workers will be taken under the Disaster Management Act 2005 and Epidemic Disease Act 1987 for negligence of duty, the statement added.

Health workers across the country have been attacked in recent months and many have been ostracised by communities over fears of them spreading the Covid-19 infection. In Bihar, health workers were attacked last month by villagers in four different districts during a door-to-door screening for coronavirus. The attacks took place in Siwan, Begusarai, Nalanda and Nawada districts. These places account for 60% of the state’s cases, and Siwan and Begusarai have also been identified as coronavirus hotspots by the Centre.

Bihar has reported 536 coronavirus cases with four deaths as of Wednesday. The number of coronavirus cases in India rose to 49,391 on Wednesday morning and the country recorded 1,694 fatalities, according to the figures from the health ministry. India has been in lockdown since March 25, and will remain in lockdown till at least May 17.

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