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The WHO formally declared the novel coronavirus severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) outbreak a pandemic on 11 March 2020 with the publication of public health guidelines to guide the pandemic response.1 Serious illness may need hospitalisation and ventilatory support.2 To reduce the risk of person-to-person viral transmission during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Indian government introduced various measures including ‘lockdown’ on 23 March 2020 with ‘social distancing’ and ‘self-isolation’ strategies and recommended shielding of at-risk individuals.3 The lockdown measures reduced the movement of individuals and consequently has had a significant impact of daily life of Indian people with disruption of economic, social and access to healthcare facilities.4 5 This has made people fearful, anxious, and sometimes they have found it difficult to access emergency treatment.4 5 India has a combination of government and private healthcare facilities for providing medical care. Due to fear and to avoid the risk of spreading the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 infection, many hospitals have closed their doors to patients who have been trying to avail these facilities. This has led to restlessness, irritation and sometimes despair when trying to find medical help. As a consequence of this, people have shown their frustration by verbally abusing and threatening to physically assault doctors and other healthcare workers.
Doctors and healthcare workers who are responding to a global health crisis—trying to protect individuals, families and communities in adverse situations with stretched resources, shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE) and other equipment’s—have found themselves as unexpected targets in the fight against COVID-19.6 There have been several reported incidences of such violence against them during this pandemic time in India. Although the exact numbers of such cases cannot be determined, there are a few glaring examples: on 8 April 2020, two trainee doctors in …
Contributors KPI involved in writing the original draft of manuscript, literature search, planning, conduct and editing. VKJ and RV involved in conceptualisation, literature search, review and editing. KPI, VKJ and RV approved the final draft.
Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.
Competing interests None declared.
Patient consent for publication Not required.
Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.