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NEW DELHI: A fleet of military jets undertook a spectacular fly-past over New Delhi on Sunday as part of a nationwide exercise to express gratitude to doctors, paramedics, sanitation staff and other frontline workers engaged in the fight against covid-19.

Frontline fighter aircraft of Indian Air Force including the Sukhoi-30 MKI, MiG-29 and Jaguar, flew over Rajpath in central New Delhi and then circled over the city for around 30 minutes. Helicopters then hovered over hospitals across with the city showering rose petals in a gesture of thanks and bringing cheer to the health care workers. Such scenes were repeated across the country.

When asked for their reaction, some healthcare workers in New Delhi said they were "elated" and "overwhelmed" by the gesture and also added that this would send out a message to those who had stigmatised and humiliated them.

Meenakshi Bhardwaj, the medical superintendent of the Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital, said the healthcare workers felt "honoured" by the gesture, according to a PTI report.

"It is a thoughtful gesture to thank the healthcare workers, who are risking their lives and leaving behind their families to serve people. People have been aggressive towards doctors in some instances and this is a message for them. It is a morale booster," she added.

Some 200 healthcare workers have contracted covid-19 in the line of duty. India has recorded more than 35,000 cases of covid-19 with about 1,500 deaths.

"The forces have done what people have not done -- giving due recognition and according respect to doctors, who are putting their lives on the line like the Army does for the nation. The gesture is really heartwarming," PTI quoted Neeraj Gupta, professor in the Department of Pulmonary, Critical Care and Sleep Medicine at the Safdarjung Hospital as saying. He said even the prime minister Narendra Modi had appealed to people not to mistreat doctors and healthcare workers and on the day of the "Janata Curfew", urged them to clap in the honour of the corona warriors. He was referring to Modi’s appeal to all citizens to clap their hands and clang vessels on 22 March at 5.00 pm in a gesture of appreciation to healthcare workers in India.

"Despite all these pleas, the frontline workers have faced the wrath of those very people for whom they are working," he said.

Nursing officer Manju Dahiya, who is deployed at the COVID-19 ward at the Safdarjung Hospital, was quoted as saying: "It was such a nice gesture on the part of the Indian Army. We feel proud, motivated and inspired. It is so good to know that the country is with you and recognising your contribution."

At the Delhi government-run LNJP Hospital, healthcare workers stepped out when the flower petals were showered and clapped in response to the gesture, PTI said.

Indian navy ships too joined in the exercise of thanking “covid warriors" with personnel on board vessels standing in lines to form the words “Thank You."

Incidentally, in the US, Air Force and Navy pilots did something similar to thank their health care workers, a PTI report from the US said.


The US Air Force and Navy pilots staged a rare joint flyover in three American cities including Washington late Saturday to salute the frontline coronavirus responders and essential workers as the country, the worst hit by the pandemic, fought a grim battle against the "invincible enemy." A formation of six F-16C/D Fighting Falcon and 6 F/A-18C/D Hornet aircraft took part in the flyover, the report added.

The SARS-CoV2 virus that surfaced in Wuhan in December, has claimed 243,922 lives worldwide and infected over 3.4 million people globally, according to Johns Hopkins University data. The US has the highest number of infected at 1,133,069 with over 67,000 dead due to the disease.

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