I HAVE QUESTIONS
“My oxygen level is 31 when someone will help me”
Five days ago, I saw this tweet of Mr. Vinay Srivastav, a 65-year-old journalist who died begging for oxygen support. This is one example of the many Indian families that have faced the brunt of the second wave of the novel SARS-COV-2.
The second wave of the deadly coronavirus has shaken us to the core but this wave was not as surprising as it may seem. Many doctors have come forward and said that wave was not entirely unexpected. Due to the exponential decline in cases in January and many other countries experiencing their own second wave a few months ago, Indian doctors and medical professionals saw this coming.
The government that was responsible for protecting its people, imposing restrictions, and preparing for this second wave was busy organizing rallies and competing elections. Lack of regulations at personal gatherings and events, political rallies, and religious gatherings are all responsible for the rapid surge in cases. Moreover, many doctors are also blaming the new variant, which is said to be more fatal and contagious to be responsible for this sudden surge.
The leniency on the part of people from February to April was evident. Children went to schools with little to no precautions, bars, clubs, restaurants were all running at full capacity, shopping malls and wedding halls were all crowded up. This leniency was allowed by the government. Although the government did enough by issuing new covid restriction guidelines, the government also encouraged its people to come out in heavy numbers to celebrate Kumbh Mela, the funding for which was 4200 crore, costlier than ever. The fate of this international was also communalized when the past march Kumbh Mela was exempted from all covid restrictions while mosques still observed these.
So why did our political leaders exempt the Kumbh Mela from these restrictions and encouraged people to come out in large numbers?
Why did the UP. government allocate 4,200 crore rupees to the Kumbh Mela when the country was in the middle of the pandemic?
Why couldn’t the government of the country with a 1.2 Billion population not prepare its people for what was about to come?
Did our government believe that vaccination would suffice this second wave? Our central government signed a deal with the Serum Institute of India on January 11th for the supply of 11 million doses of Covishield. How did our government believe that 11 million doses would be enough for the population of 1.2 billion and why did it sign this deal in January when other countries had signed for it as early as August.
With a limited number of people vaccinated and no restrictions at all, it was evident that a second wave would hit home soon. What we didn’t know was that it would be that bad.
India’s currency has 16,200,450 cases and 186,271 reported deaths with a daily spike of nearly 3 lakhs. The worst in any country yet. We are running short on medicines, oxygen, hospital beds, doctors, medical staff basically everything. All these factors are contributing to the high death toll in the country.
On April 17th two brothers Sunil and Natwar Gehlot had breathing issues, after many quandaries they were both admitted to a hospital in Navin hospital that faced an exceeding shortage of oxygen cylinders. After their health deteriorated both brothers succumbed the same night. Many people are unfortunate to not even survive as long as the brothers, their poor fate is met in ambulances, outside of hospitals, and even at home. As perverse as it is, these deaths don’t take into account a person’s age. People in their 30s 40s are dying without being able to say a. proper goodbye to their families. Every bereaved family says their patients died in front of them gasping for air as their oxygen cylinder emptied up. They said that “they could have been saved if treatments were made available”
Who should we blame? The doctor? The hospital? ourselves? Or The government?
The nature of the disease made it clear oxygen is a valuable commodity still according to sources the government took 8 months to come up with a plan to increase its production. In October the government began preparing for Pressure Swing Adsorption oxygen plants in 150 district hospitals across the country. The PSA technology separates gases from a mixture in the atmosphere to generate concentrated oxygen that can be supplied to hospital beds through a pipeline, negating the need for hospitals to buy pressurized liquid oxygen from other sources. An inexpensive program costing only 201.58 crores, being covered by PM cares corpus which received 3000 crores within 3 days of starting, even though delays could have saved our healthcare system from collapsing. Since October however, this project doesn’t seem anywhere near its completion. The union government has arranged for 100 more such plants but still refuses to comment on the status of the previous plants.
The sky turns orange every day as mass cremations of covid patients take place, lifeless bodies are stacked on top of each other as bereaved families wait for a spot to clear at the funeral homes but still, our death statistics say zero. A crematory in Lucknow was covered with blue tin sheets to avoid pictures of mass cremations going viral. Many local leaders have come out to say that they have ample supplies, medicines, and resources. We are not only experiencing a collapsing healthcare system due to policy paralysis but also have to deal with a lack of conscience and accountability from the government.
The doctors in these tough times are advising home treatment due to lack of beds in hospitals but at staggering prices. Oxygen concentrators, the available solution are worth. 1.5lakh rupees in a country where the annual average income is less than that. What about these people? What about the people that can neither go back to their dried out and poverty-stricken villages nor stay here and contract this expensive disease.
Where should they go?
Why did the government not take into account the demography?
The state and local bodies have declared that the situation is controlled or refused to comment on the ongoing crisis. Some leaders like the Assam health minister declared with pride that the pandemic is over, others said that Maa gange will save them. The leader of this nation that talked about the ideologies of Ram in his last speech has refused to help his people when they need them the most. The politicians are playing a blame game and playing are arranged in a brawl over their roles and authorities and are still requesting people to come out to cast their vote. Many MPs stopped trucks containing oxygen tanks and ambulances with dead bodies to take pictures, so it seems even now it’s just a show. The newly named PrayagRaj has 12 government hospitals that are not even enough to suffice the 0.5% of the area’s population.
Where is this promised development?
How many more propaganda lies do we have to hear before finally seeing some actual development?
But as many have said, “This is not a political issue.” I agree, it is not. This is not a leftist or rightist issue. This is an issue of accountability. The current government has failed to protect its country from this emergency. Its promises about health infrastructure development were left uncompleted. So regardless of our political views, we must hold the government that we voted for must be held accountable. The government’s policy paralysis, lack of attention to the healthcare system and inability to come up with a plan at this time is the reason why we are in this situation. The Yogi and PM have failed their own constituencies of Gorakhpur and Varanasi as the city’s healthcare system collapsed as declared in the recent Allahabad high court judgment. But in their press meeting, most are requesting us to keep hope and pray.
How to keep hope when every minute my WhatsApp notification rings with another person in desperate need of another oxygen tank, medicine, or hospital bed?
When will the government finally admit this, organize and implement a collective plan?
I have been looking for the answers to these questions. I have been looking for ways to end this article on a positive note. But People are dying. Our people are dying. Too many people are dying. While the answers to these questions remained unanswered I urge you to do your part, stay at home and AMPLIFY.