All health workers including doctors who will die while fighting covid-19 will be given “martyrs” status and provide them state funeral, Odisha chief minister Naveen Patnaik announced Tuesday. He also said that their families will get a compensation of Rs5 mn each.

If a health worker in a government hospital or a state government employee dies while fighting the pandemic, then his or her family will continue to get full salary till the deceased’s actual retirement age, Patnaik said in a video message to the people of the state.

“The war is being fought by doctors and healthcare workers in the frontline, assisted by a huge support service. In the absence of any cure or vaccine, those fighting the war for us are putting themselves in the front. We have a rich tradition of honouring our brave hearts who fight for the country and acknowledge their supreme sacrifice,” the chief minister said.

“Entire human race is in fight with coronavirus and the world has lost more than 2 lakh lives in a span of three months. No continent has been spared and most countries are in a state of war with this invisible enemy,” he added.

The announcement comes on the backdrop of doctors and health workers facing violence at the workspace and the Indian Medical Association has decided to observe April 23 as a Black day and work with black bands to highlight their plight in the current crisis.

“The state government in convergence with Government of India initiative will ensure that Rs50 lakh is given for all health personnel (private and public) and members of all other support services who lose their lives in the fight against covid-19″,” Patnaik said.

The chief minister said a detailed scheme will be instituted recognizing health workers sacrifice. The families of all government personnel (medical and others) will continue to receive full salary till the date of retirement.

Patnaik warned people from attacking health-workers and warned action under the National Security Act against those attacking doctors and support staff. “I appeal to everyone that as a community, we should be very grateful for the bold and selfless services being rendered by our doctors and health professionals. Please remember that any act against them is an act against the state. In case anyone indulges in any act that will disturb or dishonour their work, criminal action will be taken against them, including invoking the provisions of National Security Act,” he said.

To be sure, no health-worker has died in Odisha yet due to covid-19. As of 21 April, the state has reported 79 positive cases of covid-19 including a death since it first reported a case on 15 March.

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