The detection of coronavirus among more than 50 healthcare workers in AIIMS Delhi has set alarm bells ringing as it underscored the threat faced by the front-line warriors while battling the spread of a novel contagion. According to the reports, MBBS students, resident doctors, mess workers, nurses and attendants have all been afflicted by the scourge of coronavirus.
While the front-line workers selflessly and tirelessly help the country in taming the rising number of infections, there are some individuals who feel no compunction in sharing and propagating unverified and blatantly fake news to show the central government in a bad light and undermine their efforts in containing the rampaging pandemic.
Journalist Runjhun Sharma yesterday posted a tweet in which she apparently quoted AIIMS doctors lamenting about the quality of N95 masks and PPEs being given to them by the government. The doctors that she allegedly interviewed claimed that the masks and PPEs they were provided with did not meet the basic MoHFW safety standards and their objections to them were met with threats of FIRs and endangerment of their careers.
“N95 masks & PPEs don’t meet even basic MOHFW safety standards. Our voice is met with FIRs, threats & attempts to jeopardise our career. It’s not the virus we are worried about its the Govts apathy,” AIIMS doctors said as quoted by Runjhun Sharma.
However, the PIB rubbished the assertions of the said journalist claiming that the quality of the equipment given to the AIIMS doctors and healthcare workers met the standards set by the Ministry of Health which were evaluated and certified by AIIMS committee. It also added that more than 95 per cent of the coronavirus cases did not have any evidence of transmission from patient care.
Claim: 50 healthcare staff at AIIMS tested Covid+ve as masks/PPEs don’t meet standard— PIB Fact Check (@PIBFactCheck) May 30, 2020
Reality- INCORRECT! Masks&PPEs meet @MohFW_India standards;Evaluated & certifications verified by AIIMS committee: 95%+ve cases did not have any evidence of transmission from patient care. pic.twitter.com/ZLU8TPtpDZ
Soon after PIB’s official Fact-checking debunked the lies peddled by Runjhun, the CNN News 18 journalist pulled down the original tweet. However, before the mendacious tweet was deleted by Runjhun, scores of prominent personalities, including MPs, MLAs, actors and journalists had made a beeline to share the tweet and corner the central government for supposedly failing to provide necessary equipment with optimum safety standards to the doctors and other health care workers.
Journalist Faye D Souza, whose predisposition against the central government is well-known, furthered the lie promoted by Runjhun by quoting her tweet and commenting “unbelievable”.
Rajya Sabha member and senior Congress leader Jairam Ramesh also shared the fake news shared by the CNN News 18 journalist. Expressing his anguish over a fake incident, Ramesh raised question as to what is the Health Minister doing.
Actor-turned-politician Mimi Chakraborty, who is a Trinamool Congress Party MP from Jadavpur constituency, mocked the sombre occasion of coronavirus spread among AIIMS healthcare workers by taking a dig at PM Modi. Mimi quoted the fake news and drew a comparison between the Indian PM and the Canadian PM. She asserted that Canadian PM ensured the protective gear and double pay for all doctors and healthcare workers while the Indian PM asked Indians to clang utensils and light diyas and urged Indians to become self-reliant.
Another TMC MP, Nusrat Jahan, who had recently defended her dance moves on TikTok even while protesters in her constituency were demanding for food, also partook in spreading the fake news about the alleged substandard healthcare equipment for the doctors and workers. In a petty political attack against Amit Malviya, she tagged the BJP leader claiming while he was calculating beds and facilities in Bengal, “BJP is pushing doctors into the hell-hole of COVID-19 crisis”.
Congress Lok Sabha candidate from Balasore, Navajyoti Patnaik shared Runjhun’s unverified claims to assert that the government is reckless in not providing quality medical equipment for the nation’s COVID-19 warriors.
Congress MP from Virudhanagar, Manickam Tagore, posted a tweet saying that Health Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan is responsible for providing the equipment to AIIMS Healthcare workers. Accusing the health minister of politicising Wayanad medical college, Tagore said that his performance during coronavirus crisis has become irresponsible.