COVID-19: Where Is Our Government In A Time Of Crisis?

COVID-19: Where Is Our Government In A Time Of Crisis?
Chandrika Daily

Even after having reported the highest number of deaths in a single day due to COVID-19 since its peak on September 19 last year, the Indian government was unable to take enough precautions to prevent its spread. According to epidemiologist, Giridhara Babu, the count of total cases might increase by 40 lakhs or more by May 1. The Second Wave has clearly taken India unawares and unprepared for emergencies that should have been dealt with from a far earlier stage.

Here is a list of blunders made by the Indian government at a time when it should have been bullish about safety protocols and infrastructure upgradation.

I. Kumbh Mela

The Kumbh Mela, a Hindu pilgrimage that is considered the largest mass gathering in the world, was allowed to take place on the banks of the Ganges, and was attended by an estimate 3.5 million people. Over 1700 people have been tested positive for COVID-19 in Kumbh Mela through a 5-day period, reports The Hindu.

II. Election Campaigning

Despite COVID cases rising by the day election campaigning in West Bengal continued in many phases without heed to clarion calls.

III. Privatisation of Vaccines

With a sheer shortage of vaccines needed to inoculate even a small part of India’s population, the Indian government has planned to open the field to the private sector, in order to meet the huge demand. Till now, state-run clinics and hospitals have been offering free jabs, with private hospitals charging a meagre 250 rupees per dose. With plans of privatisation and leaving the field open to all players, people need to shell out more per dose. This can be a financial deterrent for the impoverished section of society, who might prefer not taking the vaccine at all.

IV. Health Infrastructure

Despite increasing domestic demand, India has managed to fully immunise barely 0.9 per cent of its adult population with double doses of the vaccine. According to data from the Johns Hopkins University, another 12.7 million people have received a single dose till the first week of April, with reports of shortages across the country, including in states like Odisha, Gujarat, Rajasthan and Maharashtra. The two Indian manufacturers are producing about 70 million doses a month right now, even though the country needs around 90 million doses every month to ensure that the vaccination drive continues without any hindrance.

Several hospitals have become overwhelmed by the steady influx of patients, leading many of them to be packed to capacity and forced to turn away patients. The situation is dire as the hospitals fall short of beds, PPE kits and doctors. A long queue of ambulances carrying COVID-19 patients was observed outside the civil hospital in Gujarat, clearly intimating the lack of medical infrastructure and resources that India is facing right now.

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