On April 22, The Epidemic Diseases Act of 1897 was amended to make attacks on doctors a non-bailable cognizable offence. Along with imprisonment and fine, the case will be fast-tracked so that the final judgment will come within a year. This amendment took place just three days after doctors and their relatives in Chennai were attacked when they had gone to bury another doctor who had passed away from COVID.
On April 19th, in Chennai, a neurosurgeon Dr Simon Hercules died due to COVID-19. When he was taken to be buried, the medical staff and Dr Simon’s family were brutally attacked by people who gathered from the neighbourhood with sticks and stones. However, this was not a stand alone incident. Several others have preceded in various parts of the state and the country and intensified since the beginning of the pandemic. In a similar case earlier, people even threatened to exhume the body of another doctor if he would be buried there.
Why are healthworkers and patients who are becoming fatalities to COVID being denied dignity in death?
In this episode of The Suno India Show, we reached out to Dr Pradeep, an orthopedic surgeon, a friend of deceased Dr Simons, who was denied a decent burial by the community around the burial ground. We spoke to Dr Pradeep to understand the reality what doctors face, role of health communications and the need to tackle stigma and misinformation.