On March 22 last year, PM Narendra Modi called for the Janta Curfew, asking people to clap, beat steel plates and ring bells from their balconies to show frontline workers fighting Covid-19 some solidarity and respect.
Health workers are completely exhausted, they are mentally traumatized, have little time to mourn the death of their loved one, and face a potential economic crisis.
India added plenty of intensive care beds after the Covid-19 pandemic broke out, but did not have enough critical care workers to handle the astronomical spike in Covid-19 infections.
Hospitals train nearly all of the specialists available to treat Covid-19 patients. But health workers are still overwhelmed; What’s more, during the second wave when the state government made it mandatory to test and drive vaccinations for seven days a week to withstand the tidal wave.
On February 2, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare told Rajya Sabha that so far 162 doctors, 107 nurses and 44 ASHA workers had died while carrying out Covid-19 duties.
However, the Indian Medical Association (IMA) said in a statement it was “shocked” by government figures and a total of 734 doctors had died from Covid-19 through February 3.
India’s top medical agency added that 431 of them were general practitioners, who were the first point of contact for the public and that 25 doctors who died were under 35 years of age.
It is unfortunate that in this devastating pandemic, the frontline fighters of modern medicine have struggled with altruism and are in the bargain of losing their lives, but these honorary titles or data on deaths were not documented by the Indian government, ”the IMA statement read.
“We strongly condemn the government’s apathy in verifying the data provided by the Indian Medical Association and also the delay in disbursing Solatium for the families of COVID Martyrs.”
Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan’s Package Insurance Scheme for Health Workers is a government insurance scheme worth ₹ 50 lakh for frontline healthcare workers involved in Covid-19 assignments.
The government states that the insurance disbursement process has been decentralized under the PMGKP: Insurance Scheme, and the certification required for claims is carried out by the Institution / organization / health office where the deceased was an employee.
But the Center does not even recognize the deaths of more than 400 health care workers, the IMA has set up a separate ‘Covid Martyrs Fund’, under which medical associations seek funding for “734 doctors who have sacrificed their lives in the service of the nation”.
With the country recording more than 1,50,000 cases for the fourth consecutive day, India has approved Sputnik V as the third vaccine after Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin and the Serum Institute of India’s Covishield to address a mass shortage.
However, proven measures such as wearing face masks, washing hands regularly, maintaining social distancing and increasing testing have gone a long way in keeping the novel coronavirus under control.
Maharashtra has been isolated for two weeks, Delhi may soon follow, and reports of hospitals running out of beds are certainly cause for concern.
In such situations, science tells us the only way to break the chain of transmission of Covid-19 is to stop yourself and your loved ones from becoming infected. If more people did not catch Covid-19, doctors and medical personnel would not have caught it.