Covid-19 ravages India-Pakistan’s aid reassurance
IT is a gloomy scene of shock and awe as people are dying desperately in the absence of oxygen and ventilators.
They are helpless with shortage of medical staff in Indian hospitals which can’t cope up with the staggering rise in the number of Covid-19 patients. Country’s playgrounds have become cremation centres as the daily death toll crosses 3600.
So far 338,013 deaths in India have put it at No.1 in SE Asia on the global list during the current deadly wave.
Closed hospitals, patients being told to go elsewhere, people dying as they wait for treatment, paints an extremely shocking picture of what Covid-19 is causing in India.
Country’s healthcare system has crumbled under the strain of current wave of Covid-19 for which both the people and the government are responsible.
New Covid-19 cases were recorded, — a record sum of 28,440,988 Covid-19 recorded cases out of which 26,382,897 has recovered, comes amid as a massive wave of infections in the world’s second-most populous country.
The surge has overwhelmed hospitals and led to devastating oxygen shortages in some cities.
BBC’ described one of these harrowing cases this week, in which a woman died in a car as her family desperately searched for a hospital with a bed and a reliable oxygen supply. “
There are people lined up outside the hospital trying to get in and every day we are getting calls every 30 seconds from someone trying to find a bed,” Amit Thadhani, the Director of a hospital in Mumbai, told ‘The Guardian’.
“Most of these calls are for patients who are critically ill and do need hospital care, but there just isn’t enough capacity and so there is a lot of mortality happening.
Everyone has been stretched to their limit.” The sudden surge has baffled researchers. Early in the pandemic, the impact of Covid-19 in the region was relatively modest — “Why are there so few cases in South Asia?” a headline in Foreign Policy asked almost one year ago — and, after a smaller peak in India in September 2020, cases plummeted and remained low.
Researchers have suggested a range of possible causes for this new spike, including loosening public health standards, large political and religious gatherings, and the presence of more transmissible new variants of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes Covid-19.
“I was expecting fresh waves of infection,” said Ashoka University virologist Shahid Jameel, “but I would not have dreamt that it would be this strong.”
Government projections suggest case numbers will continue to climb into further month’s which in other words mean worse is yet to come. The surge comes despite India’s position as a global powerhouse of vaccine manufacturing.
The Serum Institute of India, in Pune, is the world’s largest vaccine manufacturer, and the country has exported more than 66 million doses of Covid-19 vaccines, according to data reported by the Ministry of External Affairs. But India has struggled to roll out vaccines to its own population.
The manufacturer complained that export bans in the United States have made it difficult to access critical raw materials, slowing production.
Recently, India has slowed down exports as cases started rising, leading to some concerns about global vaccine supply.
But doses made in India have helped immunize people in many poor countries — and also benefited some wealthier ones, where widespread vaccination is beginning to blunt the pandemic’s blow.
Indeed, in the United Kingdom, which has received 5 million doses of Covid-19 vaccine from India, — only fewer people with the lowest tally there since September — and the average daily case count has dropped below 2,500, as people returned to pubs as lockdowns began to lift.
Pakistan on Saturday offered to help longtime rival India in its efforts to stem a catastrophic COVID-19 wave that has ravaged the world’s second-most populous country.
“As a gesture of solidarity with the people of India in the wake of the current wave of COVID-19, Pakistan has offered to provide relief support to India including ventilators, BiPAP, digital X-ray machines, PPEs [personal protective equipment] and related items,” Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
The offer comes amid a recent thaw in heightened tensions between the two nuclear-armed neighbors.
The concerned authorities of Pakistan and India, the statement said, can work out modalities for “quick delivery of the relief items. They can also explore possible ways of further cooperation to mitigate the challenges posed by the pandemic,” the statement concluded.
The Edhi Foundation, Pakistan’s largest humanitarian agency, on Friday offered to send a fleet of 50 ambulances and staff to help in India’s fight against the pandemic. New Delhi has yet to respond to the offer. Covid is impacting media activities in India in a big way.
Last fortnight, a camera operator working in the studio of a news network in the western city of Mumbai joined some of his colleagues to test for the novel coronavirus which was sweeping the city.
Days after, the 35-year-old man tested positive. He had developed no symptoms at all. It came as a shock to many as he hadn’t even stepped outside for work, the editor of newspaper told BBC.
Since then, 15 people working at the seven-year-old Marathi news network have tested positive for the virus.
Most of them are reporters and camera persons. Three weeks ago, the network stopped deploying journalists for field assignments. Most of them are quarantined at home. A majority of the 120 employees – from the journalists to technicians to company drivers – have been tested. The results are arriving slowly from the overwhelmed labs.
The infections could rise further. Anchors sitting in their boxy homes in the space-starved city have set up cameras and read the news with the network’s branding in the background.
The broadcasts are related to its production centre home using their home broadband and 4G mobile hotspots. “There are glitches. Sometimes the electricity goes off in the anchor’s home in the middle of the bulletin. Sometimes the internet gets disconnected.
It’s not easy, but we are coping and haven’t missed a single bulletin,” says the head of a TV channel
. India has ordered its people to stay at home, shut businesses and suspended all transport in what is the world’s most grinding lockdown to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus.
But many journalists – especially working for networks – have been going out regularly to report and getting infected.
Had the Indian government been more serious in containing the virus, they should have banned election rallies and religious “melas” and strictly enforced the SOPs.
Carelessness and non-serious attitude of the leaders and the administration has brought India to where it stands today.
Things would have been different had the old saying “prevention is better than cure” had been followed. We, in Pakistan should take a lesson and strictly follow the guidelines of the Government and WHO to prevent a catastrophe like India.
—The writer is an author of ‘2020 & Beyond’ and teaches International Political Affairs.