Indians may have clanged their thalis and clapped their hands on Sunday, 22 March, to show their appreciation for the medical professionals working on the frontline of this battle against coronavirus, but in Warangal, Telangana, several doctors are facing ostracisation instead of applause.
Medical professionals in Warangal are allegedly being asked to vacate their houses with landlords fearing that the doctors themselves may be carriers of the coronavirus.
A surgeon who works at MGM Hospital in Warangal wrote on social media, “Many doctors in the city were asked to vacate their rented homes by their owners stating the reason that doctors staying in their homes will make them more susceptible to the virus. One owner said that we were “DIRTY”. This (the eviction) was without any notice. Most of the doctors are now stranded on the roads with their luggage, with nowhere to go. (sic)”
Mahesh Pethakamsetti, a senior House Surgeon, told Telangana Today, “As there is no hostel facility for House Surgeons, many of us stay in rented houses nearby. However, the owners who took money as advance to rent their houses to House Surgeons are now returning the money.”
Pethakamsetti lamented that despite serving patients at the hospital risking their lives, doctors were being harassed in this manner.
Social Media Posts Highlight Doctors’ Woes
Several doctors took to social media to vent their frustration and call for help.
Dr P Raghu Ram, President of Association of Surgeons of India, brought up the matter on a video conference with PM Narendra Modi on 24 March.
Dr Ram told the PM, “There was news from Warangal that many junior doctors were driven out of their homes by landlords and they have been told things like ‘These doctors are infected, these doctors are dirty.’ They are literally on the roads. I think that the community must be very sensitive to the medical profession at a time like this, and we request you to issue a directive in this regard.”
Health Minister’s Response
On Tuesday, 24 March, Health Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan reacted strongly to the reports of doctors being harassed in different parts of the country.
He wrote, “I’m DEEPLY ANGUISHED to see reports pouring in from Delhi, Noida,Warangal,Chennai etc that DOCTORS & PARAMEDICS are being ostracised in residential complexes & societies. Landlords are threatening to evict them fearing #COVID2019 infection. Pls don’t panic!”
In a second tweeted, the Minister added, “All precautions are being taken by doctors & staff on #COVID2019 duty to ensure they’re not carriers of infection in anyway. Any harsh steps will demoralise them, derail the system. On Sunday, nation applauded their selfless services. It’s our bounden duty to keep their morale high.”
In Warangal, district collector Rajeevgandhi Hanumanthu stated that the matter has now been resolved, “A separate block has been allotted to the house surgeons in the Kakatiya Medical College premises.”