Zain Qureshi ’22
154,000 deaths. 19.4 million cases. Once seen as a beacon of light for its handling of the COVID-19 pandemic in early 2020, India has been hit hard by its second COVID wave, which started in mid-March 2021. This wave has continued throughout April and into May. Countries like the US, Italy, Brazil, and Iran have all suffered from brutal COVID waves in the past, but none of them was quite like what India is facing right now. Today, many in India are unable to get proper medical care as hospitals reach capacity and the country runs out of available medical equipment. India’s high and dense population makes it easy for airborne viruses like COVID to spread, especially in low-income areas of cities, where most residents are not able to afford protective measures like masks or hand sanitizer.
Specifically, a large problem affecting many Indian families is the fact that crematoriums in the country are overflowing. In India, the largest religion is Hinduism, and Hindus prefer cremation for their dead over burial, etc. These cremations are done in crematoriums, which in India are usually open air. However, the COVID crisis is causing bodies to pile up faster than workers can dispose of them. This is a crisis in itself as bodies are taking up space in hospitals, morgues, and crematoriums. Many families can’t even perform last rites on their loved ones, or in some cases even see the body. Some have resorted to paying bribes in order to properly cremate their relatives, but those who are less fortunate and do not have enough money have resorted to disposing of bodies in rivers or on the streets in cities.
In addition, hospitals cannot keep up with the number of patients in need of medical attention. In most cases, two patients are in every bed in the hospital, and still many patients are still unable to find space. Oxygen and medications have run out, doctors and nurses are overworked, and patients who are young, healthy, and should not be dying, are still dying.
The COVID pandemic in India has taken a turn for the worse recently, and the nation is in great need of help and assistance. You can help India navigate this new crisis by raising awareness on social media, or, better yet, donating to verified organizations who are doing work to help those in need across India, especially those who are less fortunate.