Coronavirus outbreak: UP Police told to provide security to health staff facing harassment

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A suspected coronavirus patient being shifted to a hospital in Aligarh. (PTI)

CITING INCIDENTS of doctors and medical staff involved in the treatment of coronavirus patients facing discrimination and being told to vacate their houses and rented rooms, the state government has directed police and administrative officials to provide proper security to doctors and medical staff and take strict action in such incidents.

In a letter dated March 25, Additional Chief Secretary (Home) Awanish Kumar Awasthi wrote to senior officials, “It has come to our knowledge that at some places the doctors and medical staff involved in treatment of coronavirus patients are being put under pressure by residents of their colonies to leave their houses. Doctors and medical staff living in rented rooms are under pressure to vacate their rooms. Thus, I have been directed to notify that immediate cognizance of such incidents are to be taken and they should be stopped by taking strict action. Security is to be provided to the doctors and medical staff.”

The letter was sent to DGP, all Divisional Commissioners, Police Commissioners of Noida and Lucknow, all zonal ADGs along with all DMs and district police in-charge.

Officials at Lucknow’s King George’s Medical University (KGMU) said the matter was raised in a recent meeting and information was passed on to the administration. “The issue is that residents who live in rented rooms are generally being asked by their landlords to vacate the rooms because they are involved in treatment of coronavirus patients and they can be infected. The matter was raised in one of our recent meetings after which we had written to the administration that an advisory needs to be issued in this regard. Probably the letter by state government is the result of the same,” said KGMU spokesperson Dr Sudhir Singh.

KGMU resident doctor in the medicine department, Dr Saurabh Pandey, said that there were a few such incidents in Delhi after which doctors had asked the Union Home Ministry to take cognizance of the matter. “There was an advisory issued to all state governments after that. However there is no such incident in my knowledge related to KGMU doctors so far,” said Pandey.

KGMU Chief Medical Superintendent Dr S N Shankhwar told The Indian Express that a similar request has been made to police stations in Lucknow. Claiming that the Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) kit used by the medical staff is “100 per cent safe,” he urged people not to panic.

“We have made arrangements for the doctors involved in treatment of coronavirus patients to stay at the hospital itself. Every week we are changing their duty and then they can stay in home quarantine,” said Shankhwar.