POST TIME: 29 April, 2021 04:19:41 PM
Covid-19 Tsunami in India: Is it due to lack of awareness or irresponsibility?
The election campaign was going on in different states with various religious and social ceremonies starting from the crowded Kumbh fair, bathing in the Ganges. Medical experts are blaming all this for the rapid spread of Covid-19.
Md. Tareq Hasan

Covid-19 Tsunami in India: Is it due to lack of awareness or irresponsibility?

In India, the Covid-19 situation has taken a terrible turn. On April 22, 3 lakh 32 thousand people were diagnosed with corona positive in the country. On this day, 2263 people died in Covid-19 as per the government. Hospitals are not going to provide treatment due to lack of oxygen. The infection has reached over three lakh in a few days. In reality, the number of daily attacks and deaths is much higher than the official estimates. The second wave of Covid-19 in India has been termed as tsunami. Why such a situation has arisen in India and its impact is beyond everyone's imagination.
According to various international media reports, India's health system has collapsed by the second wave of Covid-19. Many doctors expressed frustration and said they did not expect to see any light at the end of the tunnel. Many patients who die of Covid-19 are dying on the way from one hospital to another. Some are dying in ambulances after visiting four to five hospitals. There has been an acute shortage of hospital beds, oxygen support, life-saving emergency medicine. There is a crisis of doctors and nurses also.
On June 11 last year, the number of daily Covid-19 positives in India dropped to 11,000. Until February this year, Covid-19 did not make much of an impact on life anywhere in India. Everything was pretty much normal. The election campaign was going on in different states with various religious and social ceremonies starting from the crowded Kumbh fair, bathing in the Ganges. Medical experts are blaming all this for the rapid spread of Covid-19.
Many are blaming the policies of the BJP government. They allege the government did not take the right steps at the right time to stop the second wave of Covid-19. Government policymakers have taken part in religious ceremonies and election campaigns to create a more widespread environment. Ordinary people have been confused by the message of the government. People take part in all kinds of social events including weddings without security measures. The government has organized voting, allowed religious ceremonies. Fans took part in the Kumbh Fair, which started on April 14, when the Covid-19 was affected by about two lakh daily.
Since February 10 this year, the second wave in India has been taking a deadly turn and the situation is rapidly deteriorating. According to various international media reports, including the BBC, there is an acute crisis in hospital beds across India. News of deaths due to lack of treatment is coming from all over India. Hospitals like the capital Delhi, Mumbai and Ahmedabad are facing acute bed crisis. Many hospitals do not have life-saving emergency medicine with oxygen support. The situation is similar in many cities including Bhopal, Kolkata and Allahabad.
A note written by a retired judge from Uttar Pradesh has gone viral on social media. "My wife and I were Covid-19 positive," he wrote.  I called the helpline at least 50 times yesterday but no one responded. My wife died this morning. Public health expert Ananta Van told the BBC that we had not learned anything from the first wave of Covid-19. Cremation is going on 24 hours a day in the crematoriums of different states. Many crematoriums are so crowded that relatives have to wait for hours to bury the dead. The actual number of deaths is much higher than the number believed by many considering the condition of the crematorium.
A photojournalist from the Uttar Pradesh capital told the BBC on April 14 that he had visited a crematorium in the city and counted 100 bodies that had been taken there for cremation. On that day, only 85 people were reported dead in the state as government estimates. He said the sky was orange with smoke. "We are not getting proper news of the death from the government," he said.
Many are dying at home from Covid-19 without any examination or treatment. Many are dying in the hospital but their date certificates do not have corona written on them. Many small towns do not have Covid-19 testing, and even in the cities where the disease is now deadly, it is not possible for many to get tested.
In early March, Indian Health Minister Harsh Vardhan announced that India was stuck in the game of Covid-19. He also lauded Narendra Modi's leadership in the international arena during his tenure. From January, as part of vaccine diplomacy, Narendra Modi started sending Covid-19 vaccine doses abroad.
Since the beginning of last year, India has been floating in the joy of winning the Covid-19. Politicians, policy makers and part of the media believe that Covid-19 has left India. Some have called Narendra Modi the vaccine guru. In late February, election authorities announced election schedules in five states. The election will last from March 27 to one month. The election campaign started in a big way and there was nothing to pay attention to Covid-19.
In March, the Cricket Board allowed 130,000 spectators to enter the Narendra Modi Stadium in Gujarat to watch the India-England match, most of them without masks. In this way, starting from Kumbh fair, bathing in Ganges, the rules and regulations of Covid-19 take a kind of farewell in daily life. According to experts, the Indian government rolled the ball to hit the second wave of Covid-19
The second tsunami hit India in less than a month. The country's health system has practically collapsed. Only videos of cremation cheetahs, cremation ambulances and mourning of relatives can be seen on social media.
There are cries for bed, oxygen and life-saving drugs. It takes a few days to get the test result. Among them, one patient after another is dying from different hospitals due to lack of oxygen. The court has to give instructions. In the end, the central government wants to help some countries get oxygen. Disputes arose between different states over the lack of oxygen.
In India, there is controversy over the effectiveness of the Covid-19 vaccine then came the news of the vaccine crisis. The Modi government announced the supply of vaccines to neighboring countries. Vaccine diplomacy began to catch up with China. There is also a kind of instability.
Bangladesh pays for 30 million dose vaccines from India. Bangladesh has received 70 lakh vaccines till February. Although 50 lakh vaccines were supposed to be given every month, no other vaccines came to Bangladesh after that. The Serum Institute of India, the world's largest vaccine manufacturer, has said it will not be able to produce vaccines as needed due to the financial crisis. Meanwhile, the import of raw materials from the United States stopped. Why the United States made such a decision is also a mystery. Thus Modi's vaccine diplomacy has become a cause of terrible danger not only for the country but also for the neighboring countries.
Uttar Pradesh is the most populous state in India. The Covid-19 situation is one of the worst in all the states. The first wave of the Covid-19 handled the state quite well, but the second wave landed everything. State Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath said the hospital has adequate beds. Many patients are now saying where are those beds? Bimal Kapoor's 70-year-old mother Nirmala Kapoor died of Covid-19 heart disease. While taking his mother's body to the crematorium, Bimal Kapoor said the situation was dire and I saw many people dying in the ambulance.
The difference between the first wave of Covid-19 in 2020 and the second wave in 2021 is that the business was closed in 2020 but this time the business is open. Covid-19 can spread rapidly as a result of keeping economic activities open and this could hurt the economy in the long run.
Travel, tourism, shopping malls and small businesses could be the worst hit in India in the second wave of the Covid-19. Aviation, tourism, energy, alcohol and cigarettes are some of the major revenue earning sectors in India. Each of these can be damaged in the second wave. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) says the second wave of Covid-19 is a worrying and negative risk for India and the country's poor may be the most affected. Is ignoring Covid-19 responsible for the current state of affairs in India? It remains to be seen how India will cope with the Covid-19 tsunami and return to normalcy or will the death march be prolonged.
The writer is a student of Rajshahi University. E-mail: [email protected]