India goes ‘Breathless’ in a fight against COVID-19

The surge of COVID-19 cases in the second wave is an alarming bell for India to make more efforts towards expansion of health infrastructure and supplies.

Indian woman suffering from lack of oxygen in India
A patient suffering from COVID-19 receives oxygen at a hospital in New Delhi April 15, 2021. (CNS photo/Danish Siddiqui, Reuters)

India: The surge of COVID-19 cases in the second wave is an alarming bell for India to make more efforts towards expansion of health infrastructure and supplies. India on Friday reported spine chilling cases of over 345,000 with 2621 deaths – most of the deaths happened due to lack of oxygen and treatment.

According to several reports by Indian Media, the country is currently suffering from a dire lack of oxygen supply; however, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had held a meeting with the state Chief Ministers to assess the situation, but it failed to bear any fruit, rather central Government was criticized for its inefficiency of tackling the virus.

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There are several incidents of oxygen scarcity reported across India as several states are not letting productions plants deliver oxygen to other states due to fear of facing acute need in their own states. National Capital is under a red zone where a number of people have succumbed to death due to less or no oxygen supply in the hospitals.

The recent incident was reported in the Amritsar district of Punjab State, where 6 COVID-19 patients died following an oxygen crisis at a private hospital on Saturday morning. Is it a failure of the Indian Government, or this is a situation that cannot be controlled. The answer is clear, last year, PM Modi expressed fear that India might face a high number of cases as India only has over 1.2 billion population, yet lockdowns and other preventive measures helped India to remain safe till the end of 2020.

In spite of funding infrastructure, the Indian Government made most of its revenue expenditure in Defence or religious institutions. World Health Organization (WHO) specifically told the governments that countries must reinforce their health infrastructure as the second wave of COVID-19 is anticipated, but PM Modi led Government took a blind turn to push political campaigns having gatherings of more than 100,000 people to win the elections in five states of India.

The Government also gave a green signal to the world’s largest public gathering, ‘Kumbh’, to commemorate despite knowing the fact the second wave of COVID-19 is prevailing in the country. There were more than 5000 people reported to be infected by the virus. However, a larger number of people were unable to be traced as attendees scattered across the country after coming to the Kumbh.

Now the situation is shockingly worse in India that there not only the lack of oxygen, but people who died to COVID-19 are not getting a place for cremation. Private and Public institutions are building new cremation grounds as India witnessed a higher mortality rate in the country. People in cities like New Delhi had no place to do the cremation ceremony of their family member who succumbed to the COVID-19.

Countries worldwide have banned any traveller coming from India as the new variant is spreading worries for people across the world. The Government is now building some oxygen plants, but are those worth thousands of people who died only due to lack of oxygen or treatment? People in Delhi hospital are laid on the floor, outside the emergency section, as hospitals are filled with patients and there is no room for more.

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The crisis of global pandemic is an eyeopener for the Government as well as the people of India to realign the momentum towards better healthcare infrastructure rather than providing billions to religious institutions. People who have died due to COVID-19 in India could have been saved if the Government opted for farsighted thinking.