Around 300 nurses from Manipur working in Kolkata in West Bengal have returned home saying that they faced multiple social discriminations including racial slurs despite rendering services amid the health emergency caused by the COVID-19.
“Abusive were hurled at the nurses. They were called ‘corona’ for their physical appearances. Even, on a few occasions, they were refused entry at their own society flat hostel after a prolonged duty. When contacted, even hospital administration did not come for help, and police help had to be sought,” Manpuris in Kolkata (MIK) alleged.
Kshetrimayum Shyamkesho Singh, president of MIK, further alleged that the nurses were even not allowed to use lifts or not allowed to come out to buy essential groceries for food. “Due to hostile local environment and apathy from the hospital management, MIK had to intervene and provide them with food items,” he added.
Moreover, Shyamkesho Singh claimed that most of the nurses were not paid any salary after their Hospitals were closed down. “Being in a Metro city, even in normal times, many make their ends meet with difficulty in their months’ salary. With no salary, it was becoming very difficult to pay rent and also meet food requirements. Even though they did not want, they had no option but to leave Kolkata in the uncertainty of further income. What else could they have done,” he added.
Besides, the organization alleged an unsafe working environment for the nurses in the hospital and unresponsive hospital management.
“Most Issues were related to inadequate/ inappropriate PPE, masks, gloves, nonstandard safety protocols, etc. Many felt that they are compromising the patients’ and their own safety. On occasions, they had to forgo meals and even delay calls of nature to avoid removing PPEs and reusing the same mask. Their repeated grievances were not redressed adequately,” he added.
However, it is pertinent to note that, in hospitals like Tata Medical Centre at New Town where management is supportive and prompt in redressing the concerns, no one has left from such a hospital.
Alleging that no adequate measures have been taken to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, the Manipuris in Kolkata alleged ‘no segregation’ of the COVID-19 nurses. “Most nurses were sharing hostel rooms, up to 8 -10 occupants in a room. They opined that this had created a situation where infection could easily spread amongst the hostel inmates,” he added.
Moreover, in some cases, the nurses staying on rent were asked to vacate by their landlords amid this pandemic. “It is not possible to find a new accommodation at this time,” he said.
It may be mentioned that around 1200 nurses are working in different hospitals and health service providers. They are part of the total approximately 3500 Manipuri people at Kolkata.
Meanwhile, West Bengal has registered a total of 2961 positive coronavirus cases and 250 casualties so far while the virus has infected a total of 1,06,750 people and claimed 3,303 lives across the country so far.
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