India update: Second wave of Covid-19

Father Joson, from our partner BREAD, describes the situation in India as they experience a second wave of Coronavirus

Back to all stories | Posted on 23 June 21

One of my friends, Mr Joe, called me up on April 19th to seek help for hospitalization as he was finding [it] difficult to breathe as his saturation level was below 90, without knowing that I myself was suffering from Coronavirus and had been self-isolating for five days already. Unfortunately, I was not in a position [to] help, not only because physically I was helpless, but also due to lack of availability of hospital beds.

The second wave of corona is not a wave; indeed it is a tsunami, taking everyone in its fury. Since March end, the cases have been on the increase and by mid-April the health care system in Delhi and in many parts of India collapsed. No one had imagined such a scenario. In the first wave, though there were many cases, the death rate was very low and the recovery rate was very high. Unfortunately, in the present one, death rate is very high. I myself grieve for the loss of three of my priests in my own Order, [a] couple of relatives and some friends. The topic of everyone’s conversation is related [to] Corona and death.

In Noida, one of the neighbourhood towns of Delhi where I live, the situation is no different. There is no one who is not affected and afflicted by the virus. Psychologically and emotionally, everyone is at their lowest ebb.

The saddest part is the collapse of healthcare infrastructure. People die due to lack of oxygen. Oxygen unfortunately is a luxury here. Everyone who has Corona has to fend for himself or herself if they want to breathe. Where is the constitutional guarantee of a right to life? Many people ask this same question. Indeed, it is the survival of the lucky ones.

There are many poignant stories emerging from every corner of India. Just one of them is where a man of 65 years old had to carry the body of his beloved wife on the frame of his bicycle in Uttar Pradesh and, upon reaching the river bank for cremation, the villagers refused to cremate on account that the death was caused by Corona. Finally, the police intervened, pleaded with the locals and she was cremated after many hours after her death.

The poor people in India live a life hardly with any dignity. Unfortunately, with such a massive number of people succumbing to the virus, even in death there is no dignified cremation or burial.

The state [of] Jharkhand is where Mary’s Meals feeds most children. Unfortunately, the virus has been raging there since mid-April. Hospitals are full; death rate is very high. Many of the family members of our Mary’s Meals children continue to leave this world in whirlpool of tragedy. Even one of the active voluntary staff of Mary’s Meals, a Catholic priest, passed away last week in Dumka, Jharkhand.

The gulf between life and death is so narrow. Unfortunately, the trajectory of life is that death is knocking at one’s door!

-Father Joson Tharakan, BREAD NOIDA, Mary’s Meals’ partner in India