India, the country hardest hit in Asia by the coronavirus pandemic, yesterday reported a record daily jump in infections, taking its total number of cases over 2mn, as the government struggled to contain the spread amid striking health workers.
More than 3.5mn health workers, who have been the foot-soldiers in the Covid-19 detection efforts across India, embarked on a two-day strike from yesterday to secure better wages and proper protective equipment.
“At least 100 health workers have died of Covid-19 in the country so far, but there has been no insurance provided to them by the government,” said A R Sindhu secretary of the Centre of Trade Unions, a key participant in the ongoing strike.
Accredited Social Health Activists or ASHA workers, are the government’s recognised health workers who are usually the first point of contact in economically deprived sections, where there is limited or no direct access to healthcare facilities.
They have been conducting door-to-door checks to trace Covid-19 patients.
A total of 10 unions representing the workers, who also include ambulance drivers and cooks at community centres, joined the strike.
A majority of them work on contracts with state governments at a monthly salary of about Rs3,000 ($40.02).
“In some places, we had a lot of difficulty reaching households, especially in the mountainous regions... Households would be very far apart and we had to get to each of them on foot,” Nagalakshmi.D, a union leader of ASHA workers in Karnataka said.
“During rains, we had to cross rivers by boat and rope bridges too,”she said.
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