Health workers across the country said that they were deeply touched and felt proud for the gratitude shown by the armed forces for their fight against coronavirus. The mega drill on Sunday saw flypast by Indian Air Force fighter jets and transport aircraft over state capitals, aerial flower shower and performances by military bands outside hospitals across the country.
In visuals from across the country, helicopters were seen showering flowers as they hovered around hospitals. The gesture was appreciated with "Bharat Mata ki Jai" chants and healthcare workers, including doctors, lining up on streets and saluting the armed forces. Some doctors and other staff were also seen recording videos of the activity on their mobile phones.
"We are overwhelmed to receive such an honour by our armed forces. Such an honour and respect motivates our staff," said Dr Nitin M Nagarkar, director of All India Institute Of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), Raipur.
In Delhi, Sukhoi-30 MKI, MiG-29 and Jaguars flew very low over Rajpath, over India Gate and Red Fort. Major hospitals in the city saw helicopters hovering low as they showered petals. Military bands were also seen performing inside the AIIMS campus. "This is a very proud moment for us. The armed forces fight for the country and so do we. We salute them for their gesture," a doctor at Delhi's LNJP hospital was quoted as saying by news agency ANI.
In Rajasthan's Jaipur, doctors at SMS hospital thanked Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the administration for acknowledging their services. "We thank Indian army for facilitating us, we thank our Prime Minister, our government for acknowledging our services. We feel that we will be able to tide over the crisis through our joint efforts," said Dr Bhandari, a senior doctor at the Jaipur hospital said.
In Mumbai - one of the worst-hit by coronavirus, fighter jets flew over Marine Drive and dropped petals over King Edward Memorial (KEM) Hospital and Kasturba Gandhi Hospital, among others.
"Personnel of the IAF band played the tune of "Saare Jahaan Se Achcha, Hindustan Hamara", a defence release said.
"We are doing our duty, we know the danger of the disease, but we come here and do as its our duty. Such gesture, that too from the Armed forces is great, it will help us keep going," said a hospital staff in a Bengaluru-based hospital.
In the northeast, Meghalaya Chief Minister Conrad Sangma, alongwith doctors, applauded the armed forces for their tributes to the COVID-19 warriors.
"It's a nice feeling. I am sure all the nurses, doctors and other health workers who are fighting COVID-19 will be encouraged to do more again. It is for the first time someone has taken such kind of gesture. I appreciate the Indian Air Force for showing such a great gesture to us," said the principal of Guwahati Medical College.
This is the third "gesture of special gratitude" to honour doctors, paramedics, sanitation staff and other front-line workers battling coronavirus. The show of gratitude started in March with Prime Minister Narendra Modi requesting people to clap from balconies. A week later, there was the show of solidarity with candle light.
On Sunday morning, India reported its biggest single-day jump in the number of coronavirus patients with 2,644 new cases in the last 24 hours, including 83 deaths - also the highest - taking the total to 39,980 cases and 1,301 deaths.
The nationwide lockdown is set to ease from Monday in parts of the country that have been identified as "orange" and "green" zones or areas least affected by the pandemic. Strict restrictions will continue in worst-hit districts marked as "Red Zones".