As of today, countries across the globe are seriously concerned about the second wave of COVID-19 that has hit South Asian country India badly. The initial hotspots of COVID-19 were an early surprise where people were very peculiar about going out and tried to follow all precautionary measures as COVID-19 was still a mystery.
As India has the highest single-day spike in Covid-19 cases for more than a week now, the situation has become ‘truly frightening’. The Policymakers of not just India, but the neighbouring countries are forced to weigh the costs in the respective country’s economy as they initiate new lockdowns, travel bans, and restrictions to curb the spread.
Most of the states have either announced complete lockdown or lockdown-like restrictions to somehow decrease the caseload to lower than 300,000 in a day. On 1 May 2021, India reported more than 400,000 COVID-19 cases, which is the highest cases in a single day ever announced by any country. Let’s understand how the situation turned so drastically ‘worse’ in the country and how different states are coping with the current situation.
In the early days of March, the health minister of India, Harsh Vardhan, declared that the country is ‘in the endgame’ of the Coronavirus pandemic as the caseload and fatalities due to COVID-19 was decreasing constantly while recoveries were reporting at a good surge. Under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, India even began shipping vaccine doses across the globe as part of its ‘vaccine diplomacy’.
Leader’s optimism on the pandemic was backed by a sharp drop in the cases as the average daily count of COVID-19 cases rounded up to 11,000 cases while the average death toll in a week nosedived to 100. Just when all the political leaders, media, and the country as a whole believed that the time is near to say goodbye to the pandemic, people started planning their travel and attended major national events like election rallies and the religious annual Kumbh Mela festival. In no time, PM Narendra Modi was popularly called ‘the vaccine guru’ as the vaccine administration was touching new heights of milestones every day while the country managed to help other nations too.
The hints of the second wave of COVID-19 were realized when the country saw the biggest spike of active cases on 28 March. It was a jump of 35,636 cases when the national festival of Holi was around the corner. And in a blink of an eye, people around the country started facing COVID-19 symptoms and the caseload started to jump over 100,000 every day. Why cases rose so fast in the second wave of COVID-19. Here are few possible explanations that broke the optimism into an ugly reality.
According to experts of Medicines at Harvard and Johns Hopkins, human behaviour played a major role in increasing cases of Coronavirus. After the strict lockdown in 2020, people, when got a little opportunity to the ramp of the protocols and restrictions, went outside their home and tried to live pre-covid life as they joined back work and visited their loved ones. In the case of India, people were seen at gatherings, weddings, and events at large. People all across the globe practically lived a ‘sanitised’ and ‘hygienic’ life for close to a year, where they spent a lot of their time following protocols briefly.
As the cases started to go down and the fatality rate was reported higher, everyone came out of their little ‘shell’ as the rules were relaxed. Whether you talk about long queues at the metro stations in regions like Delhi, Mumbai or Bengaluru or people at weddings, hardly anyone was seen with a mask on. In no time, cases started surging and India welcomed the second wave of Coronavirus. Let’s not forget the Kumbh Mela festival where millions of people gathered in Uttarakhand to take a holy bath. Yes, without a mask!
The government operations and machinery were largely affected by protocol fatigue too. Even though regular advertisements and guidelines were thrown on different tv channels and media platforms, some of the political leaders did not care about following the protocols. As the cases of infection went below 10,000 a day in February, in no time, politicians were seen roaring about the upcoming assembly polls. Who is to blame? The Prime Minister? The opposition party? Or public as a whole!
The view of ‘being optimistic’ about the pandemic was rather taken too literally as the political rallies for elections were witnessed in Tamil Nadu, West Bengal, Bihar, Kerala, and Puducherry. While politicians were busy fighting a muddy political bath, the public was seen in a large queue outside the polling booths defying COVID-19 protocols. With rallies, it was the beginning of the second wave of COVID-19 that witnessed millions of people begging outside the clinics to treat their loved ones and dead bodies lying near the billing counters of the hospitals.
Let’s not forget about the evolution of Coronavirus that played a major role as India hit the second wave. Scientists discovered various mutations of SARS-CoV-2 that were causing COVID-19 to produce VOCs or variants of concerns. India reported several of these VOCs in different states. The second wave of COVID-19 in India began at the same time when scientists discovered a double-mutant variant of the same that is known to have greater infectivity, however, the correlation is still unexplained.
As the cases were seen rising from late March or early April, the worst-hit areas in India were majorly the urban areas and bigger cities. Regions like Delhi and Mumbai came into the radar where the containment zones were rapidly increasing. The virus was spreading like a splash of water in the cities like Nagpur, Pune, and Bengaluru, which was later sealed as the worst-affected regions in India during the second wave of COVID-19.
The government has now imposed lockdowns in all these areas to curb the spread.
With over 300k new cases of COVID-19 reported every day, India is plunging deeper and deeper into an unforeseen health crisis. One for which it was never prepared. It was certain for the medical supplies to run out in a country where the population count exceeds 1.3 billion, and only around 1.2-1.5% of the Gross Domestic Product goes towards healthcare. As soon the new and deadlier wave hit India, the country started falling short on oxygen supplied as patients gasped for breath. India, in recent times, gifted COVID-19 vaccines to various countries. And now, as the PM Modi-led nation suffers, several nations from around the globe have lent a helping hand.
Singapore has sent 7,511 oxygen concentrators, 516 BiPAPs, and 256 oxygen cylinders to India. The European Union, too, has come forward with a helping hand for India. The bloc has committed 700 oxygen concentrators, one oxygen generator, more than 500 ventilators, 75 oxygen cylinders, and over 7,000 vials of Remdesivir from Ireland, Belgium, Luxembourg, Portugal, and Sweden for India. Moreover, WHO has redeployed 2,600 health experts from other programmes and will also provide 4,000 oxygen concentrators to the COVID-19 hit country. Many other countries, including the UAE, Pakistan, China, France, Russia, and the USA, helping India with the needed aid to battle the ongoing crisis.
Several countries around the world banned flights from India due to the unprecedented rise in the South Asian country. The UK added India to its ‘Red List’, suspending all incoming flights till 30 April. The USA, on the other hand, also banned flights from India, citing administrative reasons. Travel, however, resumed between the two countries on 25/26 April, resumed with two flights: Delhi-Chicago and Delhi-San Francisco. The UAE announced to suspend incoming flights from India for ten days from 25 April. Nevertheless, UAE citizens, top diplomats, business travelling via chartered flights, and people with golden residency can continue to travel.
Other countries like Kuwait, Iran, Indonesia, France, Hong Kong, Singapore, Canada, Qatar, New Zealand, Bahrain, Maldives, Germany, Bangladesh, Italy, and Oman have also suspended flights from India. Meanwhile, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) India on 30 April extended the ban on international flights till 31 May. International all-cargo flight operations and the flights approved by DGCA, however, are exempted from the ban.
Looking at all the dead bodies, I sometimes wish I’d never been born, says a doctor while treating COVID-19 patients.
The doctors are fighting the growing ruckus in the hospital day and night with no sleep, and no food. While hospitals are running out of oxygen, doctors are losing their strength and mental peace.
A man was begging for an oxygen cylinder to a policeman in Agra, Uttar Pradesh. Video went viral
More than 2,000 patients went missing from Karnataka hospitals as patients switched off their phone. They are now untraceable by the authorities.
Public showed anger on the government as the cases were rising nationwide, and the government was busy holding election rallies
Just a few hours before the marriage, the family finds out that the groom tested positive for Coronavirus. The couple went ahead with ceremony wearing PPE kits and concluding all Hindu rituals of the marriage.
Son carries the dead body of his mother on a bike for cremation. Ambulances were unable to help, as all the helpline numbers were occupied.
When the fire broke out at a hospital in Mumbai, there was a shortage of oxygen and led to deaths of many patients.
No Place for cremation in Delhi!
Meanwhile, opposition parties showered their aids to help curb second wave of COVID-19, and the emerging third wave.
Indian has started a vaccine inoculation drive for all adults from 1 May 2021. People worldwide are hoping to walk towards a ray of hope, and a ray of sunshine soon. For more latest news and bulletins around the world, keep reading AlShorts-Short News in 30 seconds!