Second COVID wave has breached urban-rural divide, with healthcare collapsing in India’s rural hinterland

The Economist says India is seeing 6,000 to 31,000 deaths a day, figures fitting with independent epidemiological estimates, as per which, 1 million people have died of COVID so far this year alone

Representative Image
Representative Image

Sushil Kutty

The Allahabad High Court says Uttar Pradesh citizens afflicted with COVID-19 have been left to ‘Ram Bharose’, meaning to the whims and fancies of the Almighty, especially those in the small towns and villages of Yogi Adityanath’s slipping-out-of-hand bastion. The court wasn’t happy that a COVID-19 patient had gone missing from a medical facility and, then, when he was found, he was dead.

News has now come that India has beaten Brazil to second place in global COVID numbers with over 25 million recorded COVID-19 cases so far, and 4,329 COVID deaths recorded on May 17, 2021, the highest single-day tally so far.

As it happened, one of the 4,329 was Padma Shri Dr. KK Aggarwal, eminent cardiologist and past IMA president, whose YouTube videos had been dispensing insights to all and sundry on how to emerge victorious against COVID-19. He succumbed to COVID despite a crack team of AIIMS doctors being at Dr. Aggarwal’s bedside 24/7.

The number of doctors who lost to the second COVID wave is 244 so far, with 50 of them added on Sunday, May 16, 2021. The youngest was Dr. Anas Mujahid of Delhi, who was in his mid-twenties, and the oldest, 90-year-old Dr. S Satyamurthi, from Vishakhapatnam. Last year, during the first wave, 730 doctors had fallen to COVID-19.

In Uttar Pradesh, 1,621 teachers and allied staff placed on duty by the Yogi Government for the Panchayat polls succumbed to COVID-19, and the teachers’ unions are now planning to take Yogi Government to court for a Rs 1 crore compensation per teacher/staff.

UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath is in all sorts of troubles even as his first term draws to a close. Fighting an election with corpses floating down the river and nothing but sandy graves till as far as the eyes could lift and scan is a grave proposition.

The corpses that berthed on the banks of the Ganga at Buxar in Bihar came all the way from Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s parliamentary constituency Varanasi and Prayagraj in Uttar Pradesh.

Congress general-secretary Priyanka Gandhi has demanded a probe into the matter.

COVID-19 has also breached the urban-rural divide, and it’s an adversary wallowing in the state’s inadequate response. The bodies of the COVID-dead are an abject discovery of another India, which has horrified the world.

The simple fact is that healthcare has collapsed in India’s rural hinterland. So long there was no COVID-19, village-folk fared okay because of the clean air and clean living. The government’s primary health centres and the single-doctor/quack clinics kept people satisfied so long as there were vehicles to transport those seriously ill to a nearby town/district headquarters.

But as COVID stalked inward, there was no cover for millions who had only quacks to turn to. Today, the COVID cat is out of the bag. In Gujarat, COVID-dead with comorbidities are not being counted as COVID casualties. Death certificates issued to families tell the tale of this ‘Gujarat model’. An ‘investigation’ by a Gujarati language newspaper unearthed the scam. The Vijay Rupani government was forced to come up with a “clarification”, which only buttressed the allegation.

Now, a Kolkata-based newspaper has reported that India’s daily COVID death count could be 25,000. The focus is on Gujarat and Uttar Pradesh, both BJP-ruled states, allegedly massively involved in the fudging of figures.

The Union Ministry of Health and Family Affairs says the count of daily infected has fallen to below 300,000. The assessment is that this trend will continue till if and when the predicted third wave strikes.

But The Economist says India is seeing between 6,000 and 31,000 deaths a day, and that these figures fit with independent epidemiological estimates of 8000-32000 a day.

According to these “independent” estimates, as many as 1 million people must have died of COVID-19 so far this year alone. The story behind is that of a humongous failure, which has diminished Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s stature both at home and abroad.

(IPA Service)

(Views are personal)

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