Locals in Kerala attack medical team's car and cough at COVID-19 workers
By Vivek Raj | Galatta | Jul 11, 2020, 02:07 pm
A medical team comprising a doctor and a few health workers had gone to the fishing hamlet of Poonthura, a suburb area near Kerala’s capital, Thiruvananthapuram, to collect swab samples from the local people where a sizable number of COVID-19 cases had been reported. However, the team were in for a shock when the locals suddenly turned on them upon their arrival by banging on their car windows. The team has alleged that the villagers agitated in front of them and told them to lower their car window while they also coughed at the health workers. Apparently, one among the crowd had yelled at them saying, "If we have coronavirus, you should too,". Since the incident, the medical team of four have been asked to go into quarantine.
Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan and State Health minister K K Shailaja have condemned the attack carried out by Poonthura's locals on the health workers. In a strong statement blaming the Opposition political parties, Mr Vijayan said the health workers in the state are fighting on the frontlines of the coronavirus pandemic consciously knowing that they can get affected anytime. He stated that there are some people who prevented the team from entering the place while adding that the hands of the Opposition parties behind such an attack was visible.
Calling the incident as "most unfortunate", Shailaja said health workers are putting their own lives at risk to help the people. In a statement, the Indian Medical Association (IMA) strongly protested against the attack on the health workers. The association said, "At a time when health workers are risking their lives to help others to tide over the COVID-19 situation, it is unfortunate such an incident has occurred,".
Locals in Poonthura, both men and women, had turned up in hundreds to protest that they were facing isolation from various quarters due to the increasing number of coronavirus positive cases in the area, as was reported by the media. Many protesters had alleged that they were being denied treatment by doctors in certain hospitals when they refused to wear masks and were told to stay away. It was at this juncture that the medical team had reached the location to collect the swab samples of the locals, who were already in an agitated state of mind. It is being reported that Poonthura witnessed the super spread of the COVID-19 virus after a fisherman infected many of the villagers in the fishing hamlet.
Blaming a Youth Congress worker for the violent incident, Kerala CM Vijayan said the individual had campaigned via WhatsApp to bring people out to the streets to protest by spreading fake news. There are reportedly over 31,000 people living in Poonthura with the state government saying their health relief efforts were being "sabotaged' by a few who were spreading fake news. Mr Vijayan has said strict action will be taken against those spreading false news and messages that cause a divide among the people.
Kerala's state capital Thiruvananthapuram recorded 129 cases, the highest numbers for the second consecutive day on Friday. Among them, 122 people have been revealed to have been infected through contact and a majority of them were from Poonthura. The state has since deputed commandos and over 500 police personnel in Poonthura to keep vigil over the lockdown.