Many clapped Sunday to thank those at the frontline of the war against coronavirus, but the disease has also acquired a stigma with healthcare professionals treating Covid-19 patients not being allowed accommodation, doctors being trolled for pointing out scarcity in protective gear, and even the dead being deprived of dignity.
In Kolkata, a 30-year old woman, who is part of the National Institute of Cholera and Enteric Diseases (NICED) team which tests samples for coronavirus, was told by her landlord in South Kolkata to leave the place. While she did not wish to be named, sources close to her said, it was only after the intervention of NICED authorities that the landlord let her stay on.
The nurses at a reputed private hospital in Kolkata where a 55-year old man died of Covid-19 on Monday were not so lucky. The hospital had to make alternate arrangement for 15 nurses after their landlord asked them to leave. A nurse, who did not wish to be named, said, “We are already working overtime and are under a lot of stress. If suddenly you hear from your landlord that you will have to leave, imagine the shock. It is very hard to find alternate accommodation. We were lucky because our hospital supported us.”
In fact, when the staff of the private hospital carried the body of the 55-year old man strictly following health guidelines to Nimtolla crematorium, the locals not only raised objections but also heckled the medical staff. The police and the Kolkata municipal authorities finally ensured that the body was cremated.
In Rohtak, a Junior Resident at Pandit Bhagwat Dayal Sharma Post-Graduate Institute of Medical Sciences, tweeted about the paucity of masks. The first of her tweets read: “When they arrive, please send N95 masks and gloves to my grave. Taali aur thali b baja dena waha! Regards, frustrated sarkari doctor”.
A series of tweets by Dr Kamna Kakkar—who is pursuing her Doctor of Medicine in Anaesthesiology and Critical Care—on protective gear faced a backlash with BJP IT Cell chief Amit Malviya questioning her credentials. Many called her “fake”.
While she could not be contacted, Dr Dhruv Chaudhary, a Nodal Officer for COVID-19 at PGIMS Rohtak and Head of the Pulmonary & Critical Care Medicine, told The Indian Express, that doctors all over were in need of more and more protective gear.
“She was posted in a trauma centre that day. One of her colleagues had a bit of a cough, and she got scared. What she has flagged. there has been scarcity. you all know about it.,” Dr Chaudhary said.
In Bilaspur, a doctor couple and their son quarantined since Monday, were traumatized after videos and messages villainizing them emerged in social media. The doctors were being accused of treating patients while they should have been quarantined on the social media. Several people also posted about boycotting their practice.
The doctors, SK Budhia and Rashmi Budhia, who run a private nursing home in the city, finally released statements narrating the facts. They had gone to Raipur airport to pick their son who was returning from the US. They said their son was screened in the US, at the airports in India, and was taken straight to the government hospital in Bilaspur for further tests. “While he has shown no symptoms, we being doctors know the protocol. Right now, he has been quarantined in one of the rooms of the house after the doctors adviced us to take him home. We have isolated ourselves too. We are taking all necessary precautions,” they said.
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