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IndiGo, SpiceJet join relief efforts to fight the pandemic




Indigo Airlines
IndiGo Airlines | Commons

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New Delhi: Private Indian airlines IndiGo and SpiceJet have joined the efforts against coronavirus and are using their aircraft to transport medical and food supplies across the country.

Due to the nationwide lockdown imposed on 24 March, all international and domestic flights have been suspended for now.

IndiGo was authorised to operate 30 relief flights at its own cost Tuesday. The government allowed the airline to carry cargo, food, medicine and medical equipment while following all the precautionary measures.

“We know how critical it is for health workers in every corner of the country to get immediate access to medical supplies, and we are grateful to be allowed to play a role, however modest, in this supply chain,” Ronojoy Dutta, Chief Executive Officer of IndiGo, said in a statement.

Also read: AIIMS releases guidelines on reuse of PPE, says depletion of stocks due to Covid-19

Ferrying cargo as part of Lifeline Udan

SpiceJet operated the country’s first “cargo-on-seat” flight Tuesday, carrying medical and healthcare supplies on the Delhi-Chennai-Surat-Chennai-Mumbai-Delhi route. The government, as part of the Directorate General of Civil Aviation’s Lifeline Udan initiative, had allowed passenger planes to ferry cargo on 1 April.

“Special seat covers made from flame-proof material were used and the cargo was secured with restraints. To ensure optimum utilisation of space, the overhead bin was also used (besides the aircraft belly),” SpiceJet Chairman Ajay Singh said.

SpiceJet’s cargo division SpiceXpress has also been ferrying essential cargo such as surgical supplies, face masks, medicines and medical equipment across cities. It also transported the much-needed personal protective equipment (PPE) and other essentials from Mumbai to Delhi Monday.

Union Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri praised private airline operators for their contribution to Lifeline Udan. “The way they have transported critical medical & other essential supplies across the country is very commendable. These flights of hope have lent strength to India’s fight,” he said.

Also read: Air India gets nod to operate cargo flights to Shanghai, Hong Kong to get medical supplies

Air India gets support

Prior to this, only Air India was involved in relief efforts and had evacuated Indian citizens and also foreign nationals from several countries. In the past couple of weeks, the national carrier has brought back stranded Indians from China, Italy, Spain and Iran.

Dutta saluted Air India, in his statement, for the “heroic work they have been doing in evacuating Indians and other nationals stranded in foreign countries. It makes us all proud to see aviation professionals stepping forward to respond to the critical humanitarian need of the hour”.

Air India took to Twitter to express gratitude in return.

Also read: Vaccine candidates from engineered viruses and ancient tobacco plants — latest on Covid-19


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Andhra doctor, suspended for alleging PPE shortage, now beaten by cops for ‘creating nuisance’




doctor with a stethoscope
A doctor with a stethoscope (Representative image) | Pixabay

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Bengaluru: A doctor with a government hospital in Andhra Pradesh, who was suspended for questioning the shortage of PPE kits, was admitted to a mental health facility Sunday, a day after he was allegedly manhandled by the police and arrested for creating nuisance in Visakhapatnam.

Dr Sudhakar Rao, a government civil surgeon, was beaten, his hands tied behind his back and dragged by police officers Sunday. During the incident, Sudhakar allegedly verbally abused the Jagan Mohan Reddy government in an inebriated state. Videos of the incident have since been widely shared online.

“The police control room received a call about a person creating nuisance on Beach Road Hospital in Visakhapatnam. The Fourth Town police was rushed there and found that the person was the suspended doctor, Sudhakar.

“When the police tried to control him, he snatched the mobile phone of an officer and threw it away. He is suffering from mental disorder and he was drunk. He was sent for a medical examination,” Vishakapatnam Police Commissioner R.K. Meena told the media Sunday.

Sudhakar was admitted to a mental hospital Sunday after doctors at the King George Hospital in Vishakapatnam said he suffered from anxiety.

“Since the doctor is in anxiety and talking irrelevant things, I have referred him to a mental care hospital in Visakhapatnam,” said Dr Radha Rani, medical superintendent, King George Hospital.

A statement released by the hospital said: “Dr Sudhakar was brought to the KGH casualty ward at 6.30 pm. From the smell, it was found that he was in a drunk condition. Under the influence of alcohol, he did not cooperate with anybody there and kept abusing all. Still, his pulse, BP were checked. Pulse was 98, BP 140/100. Blood samples were sent to forensic lab to ascertain alcohol content in his blood.”

Also read: 6 toilets for 20 houses, inadequate testing: Why Mumbai’s Worli chawls are a Covid hotspot

‘Treatment towards Sudhakar was inhuman’

Sudhakar, who spent more than 10 years at the Narsipatnam Government Hospital in Andhra Pradesh, was suspended from his duties in March after he openly criticised the Reddy government for failing to provide PPE kits and N95 masks to doctors treating Covid-19 patients.

He had alleged that the state government was giving N95 masks and PPE kits meant for doctors to politicians and the police.

A video of Sudhakar criticising the government was also shared widely. In the clip, he can be heard saying: “We are putting our lives at risk here. We are asked to use the same mask for 15 days and a fresh mask will be provided only twice a month.”

Speaking to ThePrint, Dr P. Gangadhar Rao, member of the National COVID Committee of the Indian Medical Association, said the manner in which Sudhakar was manhandled by the police was “inhuman” and “violated” human rights.

“We strongly condemn the way he was taken into custody. He was not carrying a weapon, he was alone, the number of policemen outnumbered him. Why treat him like that? We also saw a video where a policeman beats him with a lathi,” said Dr Gangadhar.

He added that Rao was one of the most experienced anaesthetists the Andhra Pradesh government had.

“Our next step of action is to get Sudhakar to write an unconditional apology for having used filthy language, abusing the chief minister and the government. We will then take our appeal to the CM seeking that he be reinstated,” Gangadhar said.

Also read: Face shields, gowns, masks — the new attire for cabin crew post lockdown


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