On Saturday, 19 June, the Centre urged the chief secretaries and administrators of states and union territories to implement measures in order to check incidents of threat or assault on healthcare establishments and workers.
In a letter, Union Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla mentioned that strict actions, such as registering institutional FIRs, should be taken against the people who attack healthcare workers and that such cases should be fast-tracked.
He also suggested that the states and union territories may like to invoke provisions of the Epidemic Diseases (Amendment) Act, 2020 as and when applicable.
"You will agree that any incident of threat or assault on doctors or healthcare professionals may dampen their morale and create a sense of insecurity amongst them. This may adversely affect the healthcare response system," he wrote, ANI reported.
Further, he drew the attention towards previous advisories that suggested ways to check recurrence of such incidents. These measures include:
Adequate security at healthcare facilities, especially at COVID-19 designated hospitals along with controlled and restricted access to the premises.
Facilitation centres at the entry point to provide information as well as sharing of authenticated information regarding medical resources with public through website, helpline, among others.
Deployment of quick response police teams at vulnerable locations with effective communication/ security gadgets.
Effective local level medical intervention along with well equipped centralised control room for monitoring and quick response, etc.
He also stated that states and union territories should keep a close watch on any objectionable content being shared on social media platforms that may “exacerbate such situations.”
Past Instances of Assault on Healthcare Workers
During the pandemic, doctors have remained vulnerable not just to the virus but also to attacks from relatives of dying or deceased COVID patients.
Dr Seuj Kumar Senapati, posted at a COVID Care Centre (CCC) in Udali in Assam’s Hojai district, was brutally beaten and thrashed by utensils and brooms on 1 June, by a mob that included the family members of a deceased patient. The police had arrested 24 people in connection with the case by 2 June.
In another incident of attack on frontline workers, on 31 May, Dr Deepak was assaulted by four people, including a minor, in Karnataka’s Tarikere town in Chikkamagaluru district. The district Superintendent of Police MH Akshay had then said, “four people from the same taluka were arrested within 18 hours of the crime taking place.”
“Dr Deepak was treating a 6-year-old child, Bhuvan, for dengue. After the child developed complications, he was shifted to Shivamogga where he later died. Of the four held, one is the child's relative, the rest are friends,” he had said.
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