Two southern Indian states have declared a state of emergency, as coronavirus cases spread at a breakneck pace through the country and pressure increases on Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government to enforce a national shutdown.
Bengaluru, the capital of Karnataka, has the most significant active caseload of any Indian region, with over 300,000 people. However, analysts warn that the worst is yet to come as India’s third-largest city struggles with oxygen scarcity, overcrowded hospitals, and overcrowded crematoriums. The lockout declaration in Tamil Nadu state came after a regular total of over 26,000 cases on Friday.
Since February, infections have risen dramatically in India due to increased viral varieties and government decisions to encourage large crowds to assemble for religious festivals and political rallies.
India recorded 401,078 suspected cases on Saturday, with a record high of 4,187 deaths. In India, there have been over 21.8 million reported infections and almost 240,000 deaths. Also, such drastic tolls, according to experts, are under-counted.
As his hospital strained to find more air, one doctor in Bengaluru said he had to refuse patients “left, right, and center.”
“The issue is that the demand is so high that we require continuous oxygen,” said Dr. Sanjay Gururaj, medical director at Shanti Hospital and Research Center. The hospital sends a vehicle twice a day to oxygen plants on the city’s outskirts to retrieve 12 jumbo oxygen cylinders. “This would have lasted over two weeks; now, it lasts just over a day,” he said.
The state’s oxygen scarcity led the Supreme Court to ask the federal government to raise the amount of liquid medical oxygen sent to Karnataka. The decision came after 24 virus patients died on Monday in a government hospital. It is unknown how many of them perished because of the shortage of oxygen, but an inquiry is underway.
So far, Modi has delegated liability for combating the virus in this latest outbreak to under-resourced state governments, and he has been accused of doing very little. His government has responded that it is doing everything possible in the face of a “once-in-a-century crisis.” Meanwhile, many medical professionals, minority politicians, and even Supreme Court justices are pressing for nationwide bans, claiming that a patchwork of state regulations is inadequate to increase infections.
Experts warn that the surge in Bengaluru is outpacing that of other hard-hit cities such as the capital, New Delhi, and Mumbai. According to Murad Banaji, a mathematician modeling COVID-19 development in India, cases have increased 100-fold since February, citing official numbers. Test positivity has risen to over 30%, showing that the virus is much more severe than reported estimates, he said.
“Disaster was looming by early March when cases rose,” he said. “Bangalore is more than a ticking time bomb — it is amid an explosion.” Bengaluru was classified as Bangalore.
In recent weeks, Northern India, headed by New Delhi, has received much attention, with news channels broadcasting pictures of patients lying on stretchers outside hospitals and mass funeral pyres that flame all night.
The crisis in Karnataka has drawn attention to other southern states dealing with an increase in incidents. In Andhra Pradesh, daily cases have surpassed 20,000 for the past three days, prompting the state to impose new restrictions.
Kerala, which served as a model for dealing with the pandemic last year, went into lockdown on Saturday. With chronic cases exceeding 40,000, the state is increasing money, including turning hundreds of industrial oxygen cylinders into medical oxygen, according to Dr. Amar Fetle, the state’s COVID-19 officer.
“The magnitude of cases from last year to now is different,” he said, noting that rising figures have resulted in further hospitalizations and increased demand on health-care services, with hospitals complete. “It has turned into a race between occupancy and how quickly we can add beds. We are doing everything we can to remain ahead of the virus.”
Infections are on the rise in the southern area, but there has been “less visible outcry” than in the north due to improved health facilities and government programs addressing issues at the neighborhood level, according to Jacob John, professor of community medicine at Christian Medical College, Vellore.
However, as the epidemic has ravaged major cities in waves, smaller towns and communities with tiny links to health services are also at risk.
“These places are becoming affected, which suggests that we may not have seen the worst yet in south India,” he added.
India’s surge hits southern states, prompts more lockdowns. https://apnews.com/article/india-religion-coronavirus-pandemic-health-18d61c7956cb0bf9f59d975a5f171875
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