India’s devastating Covid-19 crisis – Where do we stand?

The disaster in India has lessons for us

The coronavirus’s devastation in India has escalated dramatically. A few months ago, the coronavirus had spread to dangerous levels, but the Indian government controlled it in a very positive way. It ensured billions of rupees in investment and focused on vaccine development.

As a result of these efforts, India has become one of the world’s leading producers of vaccines. It has even surpassed most of the developed western countries. But despite all the mobilization and vaccine development capacity, the coronavirus has wreaked havoc in India.

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Millions of new cases are being reported on a daily basis. Deaths are taking place in droves. There is no space for patients in hospitals. There is a shortage of oxygen and other medical facilities. There is also a shortage of space in crematoriums and cemeteries. According to official figures, 300,000 new cases are being reported every day. About 2,000 deaths are reported daily.

In the light of these figures, India ranks second in the list of countries affected by the corona worldwide. However, these official figures have been widely criticized. Medical experts and journalists are concerned that the figures are inaccurate. The actual positive cases and death rates are said to be much higher than these official figures.

It is heartbreaking to see scenes of helplessness of the Indian people through social media. The image of an Indian mother depicting helplessness is particularly viral. This woman is sitting in a rickshaw. The body of her young son is lying at his feet. This is the story of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s constituency in the state of Uttar Pradesh.

According to newspaper reports, the helpless mother was trying to get her son admitted from one hospital to another and then to a third hospital. No government or private hospital listened to her plea. Eventually her son died in front of her. Many such incidents are happening on a daily basis. There are reports that the crematoria are burning day and night. Despite this, people, and with them the bodies of their loved ones, have to wait for hours for their turn.

Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi has offered assistance to India from the Government of Pakistan. The Edhi Foundation has also written a letter to Modi offering ambulances and other medical facilities. In Pakistan, by the grace of the Almighty, we are not facing a situation like India.

But the effects of the third wave of the coronavirus are worrying. Thousands of new cases are being reported on a daily basis. The death toll is also rising. The news of more than 150 deaths in a single day is not a trivial matter. The third wave has also engulfed innocent children. Hospitals in major cities like Islamabad, Rawalpindi and Lahore are full of patients. Federal Minister for Information & Broadcasting Fawad Chaudhry has reported that 90 percent of the available oxygen is being used. He says the situation will be difficult to control even if oxygen is imported. NCOC chief Asad Omar is also pointing out the gravity of the situation.

We have a slow pace of vaccination. Hospitals do not have the capacity to accommodate more patients. There are no immediate reports of new hospitals being built as a matter of urgency. 90 percent of the oxygen is used. So, whatever we have to do now, we have to do it ourselves. We must now fully implement the SOPs so that we can save ourselves and our loved ones from this dangerous epidemic.

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In such a situation, the report in which the oxygen companies have warned that the situation in Pakistan (God willing) may be similar to India is also worrying. A search of all these disturbing news items does not reveal what steps are being taken at the government level to avoid this situation.The public has been told that oxygen is only available for a few days or hours. But there is no news on what steps are being taken to get oxygen.

Similarly, the public has been informed that there is no room for more patients in the hospitals. But it is not known what the government has done so far to get out of this situation. For the last one year, we have been facing this calamity called Corona. The question is how many new hospitals have been built in Pakistan in this one year? How much has the medical capacity increased? If a situation like India arises, the Almighty forbid, what arrangements have we made for it?

On the one hand, spiraling inflation has made the lives of the people miserable. It has become difficult for them to get two meals a day. In such a situation, if there is no capacity in government hospitals, how can they bear the cost of treatment in private hospitals? Even in government hospitals, free facilities are not available. Nowadays, the price list of treatment of Corona patients in the government hospital of Nowshera is circulating in the media. According to the rate list, the cost of one day is Rs. 35,000 to Rs 55,000.

This is the province where the PTI has been ruling for the last eight years. The situation in other provinces is also not ideal. Educational institutions in Pakistan are closed to prevent the epidemic. Business and other social activities are restricted. Yet the public is still not taking the epidemic any more seriously. The use of masks is less frequent. There is also a lack of social distance.

As a latest initiative, the Punjab government has called in the army to ensure that the people take precautionary measures. Reading the big news in the newspapers, one comes to the conclusion that it is understandable to seek the help of the Army in times of earthquakes, floods and other natural calamities. This is the custom all over the world.

But will the Army now instruct the people to wear masks and ensure social distance? This can be done with the help of the police or the district administration. A few months ago, the Tiger Force was founded with great enthusiasm. News was also published about their training and uniforms. Imran Khan himself used to constantly mention the importance of this force in various official functions. Don’t know where the tiger force is.

We have a slow pace of vaccination. Hospitals do not have the capacity to accommodate more patients. There are no immediate reports of new hospitals being built as a matter of urgency. 90 percent of the oxygen is used. So, whatever we have to do now, we have to do it ourselves. We must now fully implement the SOPs so that we can save ourselves and our loved ones from this dangerous epidemic.

Fahad Siddique
Fahad Siddique
The writer can be reached at : [email protected]

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