It was a gesture of apology for the attack on another set of health workers at Poonthura on Friday.

Parish priest of Poonthura presents bouquet to health workers coming to do COVID-19 test
news Coronavirus Sunday, July 12, 2020 - 16:03

Standing with masks and face covers, people in Kerala’s Poonthura threw flowers on the car that had health workers, coming to conduct COVID-19 tests on Sunday morning.

When the health workers stepped out, the parish priest and others welcomed them with bouquets and claps and a little speech of appreciation. It was a gesture of apology for the attack on another set of health workers at Poonthura on Friday. People had got out on the streets that day, upset over the lockdown preventing them access to essentials, and also believing fake messages regarding testing methods. A doctor and her team of health workers were in a car when a few people surrounded it, banged on the vehicle and spat on it, and said hurtful words to the team.

Read: They coughed at us, banged on car: Kerala doctor recounts protests in Poonthura

However, parish priest Father Bebinson asked another team of health workers who came to the coastal town on Sunday morning to forget the unfortunate incident. “It should not have happened, it was an unfortunate incident. But it will not repeat. We are with you. We know that you have come here to help us. We recognise and appreciate the good work you have been doing. Even after knowing the risks of the disease you are coming here to help us out. It was the lack of awareness of a few people that drove them to do what they did, but we have made them understand the situation and everyone will cooperate from now,” he said to the health workers.

Following the attack on Friday, health workers didn’t turn up for testing on Saturday. That made it two days of no testing at a place where a high number of COVID-19 cases had been reported in the past few days. Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said that out of the 1,366 tests conducted in Poonthura, 262 turned positive. The place has been reported to have the first super-spread in the state and a triple lockdown was declared on the entire city corporation in Thiruvananthapuram since Monday.

“There was some tension in the area earlier. It rose out of frustration of not being able to get essential items as well as some misguided ideas about testing. However, we have given talks to the people for two days, making them aware of the gravity of the situation. We also wanted the health workers to understand that we are with them and would provide all support to continue the work. That’s what are tried to do with the reception given to them today,” Fr Bebinson told TNM.

The residents in Poonthura ward were upset that they could not get essential items, with the shops in the ward completely shut and the neighbouring wards refusing to sell them anything. There were also reports that the local police would beat up the smaller shop owners who got out to stock up their supplies from larger shops outside the ward. The higher authorities were called in after the Friday protests after which several solutions were brought in, including mobile Maveli stores selling Consumer Fed supplies and mobile ATM machines, among other things.

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