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Bengaluru residents attack health workers on Covid-19 awareness drive

ASHA workers in the state have been assigned to go door-to-door and collect information about people who have returned from countries affected by the coronavirus and create awareness on the pandemic.

Written by Darshan Devaiah BP | Bengaluru | Published: April 2, 2020 10:19:36 pm

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As health workers across the country create awareness of the coronavirus pandemic, in a disturbing incident, Accredited Social Health Activist (ASHA) workers who were on an awareness drive were allegedly attacked in Bengaluru, Karnataka’s capital.

ASHA workers in the state have been assigned to go door-to-door and collect information about people who have returned from countries affected by the coronavirus and create awareness on the pandemic.

Condemning the incident, Karnataka Health Minister B Sriramulu Thursday shared a video of an ASHA worker Krishnaveni alleging that a group of health workers who had gone to Hegde Nagar in the city were heckled by some residents. They were abused and their mobile phones were also snatched. “The doctors, nurses, and ASHA workers are working day and night are like Gods. Respect them. We will not sit idle if they are attacked. Beware,” Sriramulu wrote on Twitter.

Speaking to indianexpress.com, Krishnaveni said, “We went to take a survey and gather information about the coronavirus in the area. We will ask only about symptoms, and the family members details but the residents there were not responding to us and started to announce on the loudspeaker that health department officials are here and no one should give information.”

Krishnavani has been working for the past five years as an ASHA worker in the city. According to her, immediately after the announcement on the speaker, people gathered around the ASHA workers and asked them to leave the place. “Soon people started yelling at us and they snatched our bags and mobile phones. they did not let us make a phone call. They are not even disclosing whether they have any symptoms,” she added.

ASHA workers across the state are educating people and busting myths around COVID-19 for the last one month. Krishnaveni is also one of them daily visiting a few areas to create awareness about the pandemic. “There are no buses, so we have spent our own money on petrol and used private vehicles to visit various areas without having food or water,” she said.

ASHA activists have been working on the rontline without leaves and putting in extra hours daily.

Condemning the attack on ASHA worker, Nagalakshmi D, Secretary of Karnataka State Samyukta ASHA Workers’ Association, also highlighted the difficulties faced by the ASHA workers. Speaking to indianexpress.com, Nagalakshmi said the government has not provided any Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) kit, mask, sanitisers, and any other protection.

“Without any safety, we are going to each house and spreading awareness and conducting the surveys. This incident makes us more scared and immediately the government should act and protect ASHA workers. We are working in fear of infection,” she added.

Speaking to Indianexpress.com, Karnataka Women and Child Welfare Minister Shashikala Jolle said, “For the past few days, our ASHA workers and Anganwadi workers in the state are creating awareness about Covid-19. I would like to say that they are working very hard. We have already spoken to the officials and necessary action will be taken.”

Similar incident was reported in Indore where part of a mob that allegedly pelted stones and chased away health officials when they went to screen the relatives of a man who died of COVID 19. The police arrested four persons from Tatpatti Bakhal locality. A video of the attack showed a large group of residents shouting and chasing away a team comprising health and civic officials.

Here’s a quick Coronavirus guide from Express Explained to keep you updated: What can cause a COVID-19 patient to relapse after recovery? | COVID-19 lockdown has cleaned up the air, but this may not be good news. Here’s why | Can alternative medicine work against the coronavirus? | A five-minute test for COVID-19 has been readied, India may get it too | How India is building up defence during lockdown | Why only a fraction of those with coronavirus suffer acutely | How do healthcare workers protect themselves from getting infected? | What does it take to set up isolation wards?

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