India's 'Gods in white' get a ₹50 lakh insurance cover before protective masks

On Wednesday (March 25), a nurse at Medanta Hospital in Gurgaon tested positive for Coronavirus — and is now at an isolation ward in Panipat. Recently, a Mohalla clinic doctor in Delhi was also tested positive — after which nearly 800 people went into a quarantine.

These incidents brought troubled facts of Italy to the fore. Italy lost as many as 23 doctors and other medical workers, as it battles an explosion of Covid-19 infection. Added to that, Indian medical staff is low on masks and suits that could save them from an infection.

A day after the nurse’s plight, the Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman announced a ₹50 lakh per person medical insurance cover for medical professionals. “They are being called Gods in white costumes. These professionals are not considering their own health risks and have been attending to Coronavirus patients,” she said.

FM’s scheme will benefit 2.2 million healthcare workers

The scheme provides relief to 2.2 million of India’s medical staff, sanitation workers, paramedics and Asha workers. Her announcement comes after Modi said that the government created a ₹15,000 crore fund to purchase medical equipment.

That brings another glimmer of hope for most healthcare professionals, who are reportedly treating patients without basic protective gear or Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) — including N-95 masks, head covers and glasses.

In fact, a few of them are reusing the same mask for almost a week — which is dangerous. The government’s package might allay some of their fears, though the risk that medical workers face is much higher than a normal individual, due to their proximity to patients and suspects.

“It has been brought to our notice from senior and junior resident (SR/JR) doctors of various departments that residents attending to suspected and confirmed Covid-19 patients are working without PPE gear. We are scared of such working conditions causing emotional and psychological stress,” Resident Doctors' Association Lucknow president Rahul Bharat said earlier.

Recently, the former governor of RBI Raghuram Rajan too said that ventilators, masks and other medical supplies should be treated as a priority as the country practices social isolation to break the chain.

"We need to spend money on medical supplies, ventilators, masks — on getting protective equipment for medical workers. That means getting every resource in — be it private, public, defence or retired. And quickly. All this will require fiscal resources and this is the higher priority," Rajan said in a TV interview.

See also:

A whole lot of doctors reportedly forced to reuse same mask for a week are crying for support
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