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‘Horrible’ Weeks Ahead As India’s Virus Crisis Worsens

COVID is an abbreviation for the acronym COVID In India, 19 diseases and deaths have occurred at an unprecedented rate, with no end in sight to the epidemic and a top analyst predicting that the coming weeks will be “horrible” in the world of nearly 1.4 billion people. The official number of coronav

VIRUS
VIRUS

COVID is an abbreviation for the acronym COVID In India, 19 diseases and deaths have occurred at an unprecedented rate, with no end in sight to the epidemic and a top analyst predicting that the coming weeks will be “horrible” in the world of nearly 1.4 billion people.

The official number of coronavirus cases in India reached 20 million on Tuesday, almost doubling in the previous three months, while deaths officially surpassed 220,000. As shocking as those statistics are, the real figures are thought to be much larger, with the undercount reflecting the health-care system’s problems.

People dying outside overcrowded hospitals and funeral pyres lighting up the night sky have been seen around the world.

Infections have risen dramatically in India since February, owing to increasingly infectious strains of the virus as well as government decisions to encourage large crowds to assemble for Hindu religious festivals and political rallies ahead of state elections.

Last month, India’s top health official, Rajesh Bhushan, declined to speculate about why authorities were not better trained. However, the cost is clear: people are dying as a result of a lack of liquid oxygen and hospital beds, or because they were unable to get a COVID-19 exam.

The official daily estimate of newly reported cases in India has risen from more than 65,000 on April 1 to about 370,000, and the official daily death toll has risen from more than 300 to more than 3,000.

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The health ministry confirmed 357,229 new cases in the previous 24 hours and 3,449 deaths from COVID-19 on Tuesday.

Dr. Ashish Jha, dean of Brown University’s School of Public Health in the United States, expressed concern that Indian officials he has spoken with think conditions will change in the coming days.

“I’ve been… trying to tell them that even though everything goes well, life will be terrible for the next few weeks. And that may be much longer,’” he said.

Jha believes that the focus should be on “classic” public health initiatives such as targeted shutdowns, increased testing, compulsory mask use, and preventing big crowds.

“That is what will crack the back of this surge,” he predicted.

Since monitoring is patchy and documentation is insufficient, the mortality and illness numbers are deemed untrustworthy. For example, government guidelines require Indian states to include reported COVID-19 cases when tracking outbreak deaths, but many do not.

With one-fourth the population of India, the United States has reported more than 2 1/2 times as many deaths, at about 580,000.

According to municipal reports from this past Sunday, 1,680 people died in the Indian capital and were handled in accordance with the protocols for handling the bodies of those afflicted with COVID-19. However, only 407 deaths were added to the official toll from New Delhi in the same 24-hour time.

The New Delhi High Court has declared that it would begin suing government officials if hospital oxygen supplies are not provided. It declared, “Enough is enough.”

The deaths highlight the vulnerability of India’s health-care system. Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s party has responded to criticism by finding out that systemic underfunding of health care exists.

But, according to Dr. Vineeta Bal of the Indian Institute of Science Education and Research, this was all the more justification for officials to use the few months when cases in India failed to shore up the scheme.

“Only a patchwork upgrade was possible,” she said. However, the government “didn’t really do that.”

Authorities are now rushing to make up for missed time. More beds are being introduced to hospitals, more analyses are being performed, oxygen is being transported from one end of the world to the other, and production of the few medications successful against COVID-19 is ramping up.

The problems are particularly severe in states where elections were held, and unmasked crowds are likely to have exacerbated the virus’s spread. After the balloting started, the total number of regular infections in West Bengal state has risen by a factor of 32, to more than 17,000 people.

“It’s a frightening crisis,” said West Bengal Doctors’ Forum convener Dr. Punyabrata Goon.

Goon went on to say that the state should also speed up immunizations. However, the world’s biggest vaccine manufacturer is running low on vaccines due to sluggish production and raw material shortages.

Experts are also concerned that the premiums being paid for vaccines would make it more difficult for the vulnerable to get vaccinated. On Monday, opposition parties urged the government to make vaccines available to all Indians at no cost.

India vaccinates approximately 2.1 million people a day, or approximately 0.15 percent of its population.

“This is not going to go down very soon,” said Dr. Ravi Gupta, a virus researcher at the University of Cambridge in England. “And, in a way, the soul of the country is in jeopardy.”

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