Violence, abuse and rude behaviour directed against frontline workers fighting COVID-19 is not acceptable, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Monday.

Podcast | Protecting frontline workers and involving communities in the battle against COVID-19

He was speaking at the 25th foundation day and silver jubilee celebration of the Rajiv Gandhi Institute of Health Sciences. He participated in the function online from New Delhi.

“Because of mob mentality, those on duty — doctors, nurses ,and other healthcare workers — are subjected to violence,” he said. The government had taken steps to protect those on duty and an insurance cover of ₹50 lakh had been provided to those on the frontline. Mr. Modi also said there was a need to focus on “humanity-centric development” in the light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

He praised the hard work of the medical community and corona warriors. “Doctors and medical workers are like soldiers without uniform. The virus may be invisible, but our corona warriors are invincible. In the battle of the invisible and the invincible, our medical workers are sure to win,” he said.

Also read: Coronavirus | Hydroxychloroquine cover extended to frontline workers

Terming this the biggest crisis since the two World Wars, Mr. Modi said the pre- and post-COVID-19 worlds would be very different. India, he said, was determined to eliminate tuberculosis by 2025.

The Prime Minister also took a moment to compliment the Karnataka government’s handling of the COVID-19 crisis.

He spoke of the need for proper medical infrastructure and said the government was committed to ensuring the presence of a medical college in every district in the country. “As many as 30,000 seats for MBBS and 15,000 in postgraduation were added over the past five years,” he said.

Mr. Modi said there was a need for discussions in three areas — advancement in telemedicine, ‘make in India’ in the healthcare sector, and coming up with IT-related tools for a healthier society. He said the country had started manufacturing Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs) and N-95 masks, and more than 12 crore people had downloaded the Arogya Setu app.

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