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COVID wildfire sweeps up South Asia

‘India alone reports over 412,000 new cases’

  ‘The ongoing pandemic is devastating,’ is an understatement by now. With over 412,000 new cases (on May 5, 2021) in India, it has been the highest one-day rise for any country since the pandemic began last year. A morbid 3980 deaths were reported during the same time.

The Indian authorities have attributed this unprecedented spike due to the presence of a ‘double mutant’ variant, which apparently makes the virus more contagious. Mutation in the key areas of the virus areas allows escape detection by the immune system.

A UN report states that around 500,000 deaths due to COVID-19 are possible in the coming months in South Asia, with over 490,000 projected to occur in India alone. A report titled “Direct and indirect effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and response in South Asia’, discussed the impact of the severe disruptions in health services due to the pandemic. It also discusses the adverse effect on poor and vulnerable families.

One of the biggest reasons for this massive surge in COVID-19 cases in this area is the density of population. South Asia is the home to a population of over 1.8 billion people, all densely packed. Among the South Asian countries, all of which have seen a spike in cases of late, India is the most affected country.

The Indian healthcare system present in the countries simply cannot cope up with the immense surge in cases. The healthcare professionals are overworked and are in constant exposure to the virus, leaving them more susceptible to the same. Thousands of lives are being lost daily and it has taken its toll on its already stressed-out medical system. The speed at which the infection is spreading is indeed alarming! Over 1.5 million people are sick in India, Pakistan and Bangladesh combined, which is 50 times more than what has occurred in April, 2021.

This continual increase in COVID-19 cases has left nearly two-third of the South Asian firms likely to fall into arrears, higher than other regions. The manufacturing firms are expecting upwards to 25 percent decline in their sales figures. They also have lagged behind in providing digital solutions in the wake of social distancing which in turn increased their risk of falling into debt.

On top of that, an immense shortage of oxygen supplies in hospitals, too, contributed to what could be described as panic-like situations in the nation. Oxygen cylinders were sold in black market and at this point of time, one can agree that the Indian healthcare system has failed to serve the patients. With plants amping up production and foreign aid pouring in from the US, Germany, Russia and others, it is still a long way to go for India to become self-sufficient in oxygen supplies. In the meantime, the healthcare officials are working round-the-clock and trying their best, help saving lives. The impact on these frontline workers is catastrophic and one can only wish and do their bit in assisting the community.
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