Kerala: Locals in Coronavirus hotspot Poonthura protest against lockdown restrictions, spit on healthcare workers collecting swab samples

Poonthura near Thiruvananthapuram/ Image Source: mathrubhumi

In a shocking attack on the frontline workers in Kerala, locals of the fishing suburb of Poonthura near Thiruvananthapuram attacked a team of health workers, including a doctor, who had gone to collect swab samples after it was suspected that the area has become a ‘super-spreader’ in the state of Kerala.

According to the reports, the team of health workers had visited Poonthura to take samples of the suspected Coronavirus patients. However, the villagers forced them to stop their cars, asked them to lower the car window and spat on those inside the vehicle.

The attack allegedly took place on Friday when the local people were protesting against the lockdown restrictions imposed in the area after the area saw a fresh wave of Coronavirus cases.

The locals, despite being suspected Coronavirus patients, were protesting against the restrictions, who neither followed the social distancing rules nor wore masks during the protests.

Hundreds of men and women had come out of their homes at Poonthura this morning protesting that they were facing isolation from various quarters due to media reports on a rising number of positive cases from the area. The locals were protesting alleging that they were being isolated as doctors of certain hospitals had refused to treat them.

The health workers had reportedly reached the area on Friday when the locals were protesting, after which, they were allegedly attacked. Following the incident, all four health workers have been asked to go into quarantine.

Poonthura, the new ‘super-spreader’

The coastal hamlet on the outskirts of Kerala’s capital Thiruvananthapuram has emerged as a sensitive Coronavirus hotspot as more than 100 people in the area tested positive for the virus in last one week. More than 119 people tested positive in the area out of the 600 samples collected in the past five days.

Following this, the Kerala government imposed several restrictions not just in Poonthura but also in the entire city of Thiruvananthapuram.

However, several people in the locality protested against the lockdown and came out on the streets in the containment zone of Poonthura in Thiruvananthapuram on Friday morning. They were allegedly upset about the restrictions imposed as it barred them from moving out to buy minimal supplies and also alleged that there were instances of doctors refusing to treat them, asking them to stay away.

Reportedly, the Coronavirus infection is suspected to have spread at a wholesale fish vendor at the local Kumarichanda market. More than 100 people including autorickshaw drivers, fishermen and their families have tested positive for the virus in the area covering three wards of the local corporation.

“It can be described as a local super-spread,” said Kadakampally Surendran, the minister-in-charge of the district.

Chief Minister speaks up after locals attacked health workers

Meanwhile, Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan and Health Minister KK Shailaja have condemned the attack on health workers. The Chief Minister has blamed the opposition parties for the attack on health workers.

Vijayan said, “Our health workers are in the battlefield consciously knowing that they can get affected anytime and are fighting the spread of the pandemic. They were prevented from entering the place. Some people are making the locals do the same. We can see the hands of the Opposition parties behind this,” he told reporters.

The Indian Medical Association has protested against the attacks on the doctor. The IMA said, “At a time when health workers are risking their lives to help others to tide over the COVID-19 situation, it is unfortunate such an incident has occurred”.

OpIndia Staff: Staff reporter at OpIndia