Kerala: Doctors on COVID-19 duty say mob coughed on them
A young doctor and her team were allegedly mobbed by a crowd as they drove into a Community Health Center in Kerala's capital Thiruvananthapuram on Friday. The 25-year-old doctor said that a person among the mob stuck his head inside their car and coughed on them. The state government has criticized the attack and blamed political leaders for inciting unrest through disinformation.
The young doctor and her team—including a technician, two nurses—had been assigned to the Poonthura containment zone in Thiruvananthapuram on COVID-19 duty. When the team reached a Community Health Center, where they were supposed to wear their personal protective equipment (PPE) kits, they found the gates locked. Soon, their vehicle was surrounded by a mob of around 50 people.
The doctor told NDTV that the mob was hurling abuses and banging at their vehicle's windows. Since the mob had surrounded the car, the driver rolled down the window to persuade the mob to leave them. That is when one man stuck his head inside the car and coughed at the team, recalled the doctor, who began her practice 10 days ago.
"One of the men stuck his head inside the car and coughed at us saying, 'If we have COVID, you should have it too,'" the doctor told NDTV, "We were shocked at that." She said, "One of the staff nurses in my team started crying in the car with all that was happening," adding that the nurse had a one-year-old child.
The doctor said she alerted all authorities after the incident. The doctor, her team, and the driver have been quarantined, NDTV reported. They will be tested for COVID-19 after seven days. If they are found negative, they will resume duty. The doctor said Kerala Health Minister KK Shailaja and District Collector Navjot Khosa called her and "assured me that they are with me."
Speaking to reporters, Shailaja said, "[Healthcare professionals] are working very sacrificially. Instead of supporting them, it's very scary to hear that a doctor's vehicle was attacked by people. If they are attacked, who will treat people?" She added, "People can protest, but they cannot do so gathering in groups and that too without masks or social distancing."
The local councilor told NDTV that people in the area are angry as they are not getting provisions. "Some families could not even go out to buy essentials like milk for their children in between," said the councilor, adding that some people who tested positive told family members that they were not getting food at treatment facilities.
Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said people with vested interests are trying to provoke innocents. He said, "There is an agenda behind this. And the leadership of the opposition in the state is part of this, according to the information we are getting." Shailaja said she had also warned leaders against instigating people with disinformation, especially about antigen tests.