Chandigarh: The Haryana government has decided to double the salary of all healthcare officials and workers who are tackling the Covid-19 outbreak in the state. Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar made this announcement through a video address Thursday evening.
Haryana is the first state to take such a step to motivate health workers to continue their fight against the pandemic caused by the novel coronavirus.
“We have taken this decision after deliberations with the state health minister (Anil Vij). All those health officials, including doctors, nurses, paramedical staff and class-4 employees working in hospitals, as well as staff working with ambulances and testing centres will be paid double the salary till this continues,” Khattar said.
However, the Haryana Congress has been quick to claim credit for the BJP-led government’s move. The party’s national spokesperson and former Haryana MLA Randeep Singh Surjewala tweeted: “Dear KhattarJi, Deeply grateful for accepting Congress demand of doubling the pay of Doctors/Health Workers treating #Covid_19 patients. I again request you to extend the benefit to all Doctors/Health Workers. In absence of PPE’s/Masks, all of them are susceptible to COVID.”
The tweet added: “Spl. category of employees serving despite threat of #Covid_19 infection are-1. Police Officials who are on duty round the clock; 2. Safai Karamcharis serving tirelessly; 3. Elect. & Drinking Water employees. Pl give them benefit of double pay too.”
Surjewala had, in a 31 March video press conference, asked the government to incentivise police personnel and sanitation workers, who, “along with the doctors and paramedical staff, are playing a pivotal role in our battle to check the spread of the deadly virus”.
“The police personnel and safai karamcharis of the state should be appreciated by the government by giving them a 50 per cent pay hike for three months, as their services are critical at this juncture,” Surjewala had said.
Meanwhile, Haryana has registered a sudden spurt in the number of Covid-19 cases, after having effectively contained it in the first week of the lockdown.
The spike is being attributed to the presence of people who had attended the Tablighi Jamaat event in Delhi in mid-March.
Rajiv Arora, the state’s principal secretary, health, informed journalists Thursday that 107 Covid-19 cases in Haryana can be traced to the Tablighi Jamaat event.
In the week ending Thursday, the number of positive cases in the state has increased from 35 to 156, with the fresh cases being reported from Tablighi Jamaat members in Faridabad, Palwal, Nuh and Gurugram. The numbers in Palwal have increased to 28 from four on 2 April, while the corresponding numbers for Faridabad are 28 and six. In Nuh, where the first three cases were detected on 3 March, the number has now increased to 38.
With the numbers spiralling, unprecedented steps have been taken to contain infection within these hotspots. In Nuh, 36 villages have been declared as containment zones and 104 villages as buffer zones, while in Palwal, the corresponding numbers are nine and 27. Another 13 areas in Faridabad have been declared as containment zones.
Health team attacked
Meanwhile, a team of health officials that was conducting a door-to-door check in Panchkula’s Rajiv Colony looking for members of the Tablighi Jamaat congregation were attacked by residents and stopped from conducting the search, Haryana DGP Manoj Yadav told ThePrint.
Police sources added that almost 1,600 members had been tracked and quarantined.
Health Minister Vij had issued a warning Tuesday that all Tablighis and their associates should inform the government about their whereabouts, failing which they would be booked under Section 307 (attempt to murder) of the Indian Penal Code. The deadline was Wednesday 5pm.
The police sources added that five members were traced after the deadline in Yamunanagar district, and were booked.