COVID-19 surge overwhelms India: ‘The condition is so horrible’

COVID-19 surge overwhelms India: ‘The condition is so horrible’
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India, according to Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, is #4 in deaths from the COVID-19 coronavirus. More than 182,500 people have died from COVID-19 in India as of Wednesday morning, April 21. And the Financial Times is reporting that India's most recent wave of COVID-19 infections is its worst so far.

Financial Times reporters Benjamin Parkin, Jyotsna Singh, Stephanie Findlay and John Burn-Murdoch explain, "Every night, funeral pyres blaze on the banks of the Ganges — a grim symbol of the ferocious COVID-19 wave, sparking a health crisis and human tragedy in India that is far surpassing anything seen last year. Patients are dying while their families search in vain for hospital beds. Supplies of oxygen and medicines are running low, leading to robberies of drugs from hospitals. Crematoriums and burial grounds cannot cope with the sheer number of corpses."

India, the FT reporters note, has recently been averaging "about 294,000 infections and 2000 deaths a day." And a Twitter thread posted by Burn-Murdoch on April 21 lays out some reasons why the data is so grim.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, a right-wing Hindu nationalist, and others in his Bharatiya Janata Party have drawn criticism from some health experts around the world for holding crowded events that did not adhere to social distancing guidelines. Two months ago, Bharatiya Janata officials were boasting that India had largely conquered COVID-19. But that was before the latest wave of infections.

K. Srinath Reddy, president of the Public Health Foundation of India, told Financial Times, "Health systems weren't better prepared for it this time around. Many people in the administration across the country did not expect that there would be a 'this time around.' It was somehow presumed that we had passed the pandemic."

Seema Shukla, a nurse at the Sanjay Gandhi Post-Graduate Institute of Medical Sciences in Lucknow, told Financial Times that what India is suffering now is much worse than what the country experienced in 2020.

According to Shukla, "None of us suffered the death and devastation that we are seeing now. It is much worse this time than last year. The condition is so horrible that so many people are dying on the street, in their houses, before they can see a doctor or even have a test. From early morning to midnight, my phone keeps ringing. Desperate relatives and friends are calling for help: 'Please help me find a ventilator, bed, a nurse, oxygen cylinder, medicine.'"

The COVID-19 pandemic, according to Johns Hopkins researchers, has killed more than 3 million people worldwide. The United States remains the country with the most COVID-19-related deaths — with more than 568,000 U.S. residents having died from the novel coronavirus. And Hopkins reports that other COVID-19 hotspots include Brazil at #2 and Mexico at #3.

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