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Coronavirus - 28th April 2021

Kitkat
Kitkat

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Post by Kitkat Wed Apr 28 2021, 12:22

Summary for Wednesday, 28th April

  • India has seen more Covid cases in the last seven days than any other country
  • A ferocious second wave has seen the official death toll surpass 200,000 - experts believe the actual number may be higher
  • People have died waiting for beds, as oxygen supplies run low and hospitals crumble under the strain
  • From today all adults over 18 can sign up for Covid vaccines - only 1.6% of India's population is fully vaccinated
  • US President Joe Biden says he intends to send vaccines to India
  • The BBC is bringing you a special day of coverage across TV, radio and digital on India's crisis
  • We’re following families as they search for oxygen for loved ones, and getting updates from areas likely to be hit hardest next


Inside the world's worst second wave

India’s second wave has struck with devastating force, with more than two million cases recorded in a week and 200,000 deaths overall.
Hospitals in numerous cities are being pushed to the brink, oxygen supplies are dangerously low and makeshift funeral pyres burn day and night.
Meanwhile, a thriving black market has emerged as people scramble to help their desperately ill family and friends.
It is against this backdrop that the BBC is bringing you a special day of coverage, speaking to our reporters across the country.

Breaking News 

India records 200,000 Covid deaths amid surge

India has crossed another tragic threshold with officials saying that 200,000 people have died of Covid in the country as of Tuesday.
The country also saw more than 3,000 fatalities in one day for the first time, with officials saying that 3,286 people died on Tuesday. A recent surge of infections has brought the country to its knees - two million infections were recorded in just one week.
India currently has the fourth highest death toll in the world, behind the US, Brazil and Mexico. Yet in none of those countries is the crisis as urgent as it is presently in India.

‘She died gasping for breath’

The story of Rajeshwari Devi, 58, who died after waiting for two days to get uninterrupted oxygen has become a depressingly familar one in India’s capital.
She kept waiting and gasping but it was too late by the time help arrived.
She spent around 36 hours in the emergency room on oxygen support in the northern Indian district of Robertsganj. And then the staff there told her family they were running out of oxygen and she needed to be moved to a bigger hospital but there was no ambulance or any promise of a bed.
The desperate family took her in their car to a hospital where a bed was available after a politician intervened. She had no oxygen support in the car - she died minutes before she could be admitted to hospital.
Read more about how this second wave is devastating India

What do we know about the India variant?

There has been a lot of speculation about the new India variant as cases surge in the country.
Officially known as B.1.617, it was first detected in India in October 2020 (long before the current second wave). How widespread and dangerous it is, is actually still unclear.
Viruses mutate all the time, producing different versions or variants of themselves.
There’s also insufficient data on the new strain.
But fear about it and India’s rising numbers has led to many countries shutting out all flights from the country. Read more this here.

Indian-Americans rush to help online

Ritu Prasad - BBC News writer, Florida
Online, sometimes the distance feels less vast.
Networks of Indian Americans on social media have been sharing ways to help, like information on outbreaks, vaccine availability, or the best organisations to donate to.
One charity's Facebook fundraiser for oxygen supplies has raised $4.4m from more than 63,000 donations in five days. Another geared towards underprivileged communities has raised more than $13,000.
Despite the separation, Indian families in the US are using the web to help in more tangible ways – through information on Whatsapp groups and sharing Google docs of hospital bed availability.

Delhi's funeral pyres burn day and night

Across the capital city of Delhi, crematoriums have been forced to build makeshift funeral pyres as the city runs out of space to cremate its dead.
Delhi has also registered its highest death toll yet with officials saying 381 people had died in the last 24 hours.
Authorities are reportedly even cutting down trees in city parks for use as kindling on the pyres. Relatives of the dead have also been asked to help with cremations by piling wood and assisting in other rituals - all this, while the death toll continues to rise.
Here's more about the situation on the ground.
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Post by Kitkat Wed Apr 28 2021, 12:28

The mother 'meeting' her daughter from quarantine

Geeta Pandey - BBC News, Delhi
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Rukmini Kumar "meets" her daughter through a glass door after contracting Covid-19

Rukmini Kumar, who tested positive for the new strain of coronavirus last Wednesday, posted this photograph after “meeting” her 14-year-old daughter on Sunday.
She escaped the virus last year when her entire family – parents, husband and daughter – were infected.
“More than the discomfort and the pain of the disease, being away from my child hurts me the most. I’m quarantining in one part of the apartment and she can only see me though the glass door and we talk on the phone," Ms Kumar told me.
"I can sense her worry, I can see it in her eyes. She keeps asking me,‘how are you?’ Today, I told her I’m much better and I could see her eyes light up.”

The crisis unfolds on WhatsApp

We are following a day in the life of India.
For many Indians that largely unfolds on their social networks - where they are either making or fielding calls for help for themselves or their loved ones.
As the pandemic cripples the country's healthcare system, the burden of finding everything from hospital beds to oxygen has fallen on family and friends. Our correspondents Soutik Biswas and Vikas Pandey are a part of some of these groups on WhatsApp.
We will be following some of the stories that unfold on these groups through the day.
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Post by Kitkat Wed Apr 28 2021, 12:51

'Does anyone have an oxygen cylinder?'

Soutik Biswas - India Correspondent
I have been going to sleep and waking up to WhatsApp groups full of strangers trying to help each other keep their loved ones alive. It’s a stream of pleas and offers - and this is repeated in real life, on the ground and on phone lines across India.
As the day goes on, I will update you on the threads and themes that come up – it’s been the story of India for weeks now since this devastating second wave.
Here’s a sample of what I see every hour, every day. (Names and times have been changed).

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And it goes on. Suddenly, there’s a glimmer of good news.Someone in the group has shared a tweet of a journalist saying that he’s returned home after recovering from Covid-19. There’s a picture of the masked journalist in a car.

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And then...

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Post by Kitkat Wed Apr 28 2021, 12:57

How the pandemic has spread across India

India's hardest hit regions are the capital Delhi and the western state of Maharashtra which is home to its financial capital Mumbai. However, the virus is spreading across the entire country.

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Biden intends to send India vaccines

US president Joe Biden said he had a discussion with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi about sending across “actual vaccines, which will be my intention to do.” But he has not said when that would happen or how many might be shared.
He said the "problem right now" depended on the US also authorising vaccines like Novovax for its use. The country is currently administering Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson.
“I think we’ll be in a position to be able to share vaccines as well as know-how with other countries who are in real need. That is the hope and expectation,” he said.
“And I might add - when we were in a bind at the very beginning, India helped us.”
In the meantime, Mr Biden said the US would send over antiviral drugs like remdisivir and machine parts for vaccine manufacturing.

How do you explain the pandemic to a child?

Geeta Pandey - BBC News, Delhi
When the pandemic started, Ms Singhvi and her husband didn’t need to explain much about the pandemic to their nine-year-old Naaya, whose school had already done a good job in laying out the basics.
And four-year-old Aria - then three - didn’t go out alone anyway, so they didn’t spend much time explaining the situation to her.
But then the whole family tested positive in Delhi a fortnight ago - and it soon became a problem for Aria.
“She doesn’t understand what is a fever or why you should not touch anyone or why she needs to wear a mask. And it became very difficult when she could see other children playing, but wasn’t allowed to play with them.
“So, we told her that coronavirus is a monster and you get a fever when it gets inside your body and if you hug your friends, the monster would want to hug them too and give them a fever. We also told her that if you eat lots of vegetables and drink coconut water, it will kill the monster.
”For the past fortnight since Aria tested positive, Ms Singhvi says, she has been following up on the advice because “she understands from watching TV shows that monsters have to be killed”.
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Post by Kitkat Wed Apr 28 2021, 13:00

'Everyone wants the same thing – a bed for their loved ones'

Vikas Pandey - BBC News, Delhi
My days start with panic calls from close friends, family members and sometimes from people I barely know. Today is likely to be no different and a lot of people are going through this. My experience is not unique.
Almost everybody wants one thing – a hospital bed for their loved ones. Sometimes I am successful, but mostly I am not. All the doctors and officials I know are not taking phone calls.
And then there are those who are looking for drugs – mostly the antiviral drug remdesivir that doctors are prescribing to very sick patients. It’s selling at 10 times the official price in the black market but it’s not easy to find even there. Apart from this, there are also frantic calls for oxygen cylinders to help loved ones keep breathing.
There is too much news about death - some because of Covid and others because they simply didn’t get treatment in time. Last night was no different. A close friend of my family’s GP, who he described as like his brother, desperately needs a hospital bed and high-flow oxygen. I think his story will be the story of my day.

Vaccine registrations open up to all Indians over 18

From today, all adults over the age of 18 will be eligible to sign up for Covid-19 vaccines in India.
Despite being the world’s biggest producer of vaccines, only 1.6% of the population have received both doses of the jab so far.
Various states say they'll start administering them to over 18s from 1 May. India is currently vaccinating health workers, front line workers and people over 45.
But despite being such a prolific producer, there are reports of short supply in many places so it’s unclear where these additional doses will come from.

India’s biggest hotspot is back at the top

The western state of Maharashtra, which has been India's Covid ground zero from the start of the pandemic, is back at the top after briefly reporting a drop in cases.
The state, among India’s richest and home to its financial hub, Mumbai, confirmed more than 66,000 cases last night.
That’s more than any other state, adding to an active caseload that is already the highest in India.
Maharashtra accounts for more than a quarter of India’s 17.9 million cases and nearly a third of India's 201,000 deaths so far.
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Post by Kitkat Wed Apr 28 2021, 13:07

The 'corona warrior' spending the day sourcing oxygen

Suranjana Tewari - BBC News
He’s the leader of the opposition Congress party’s youth wing - but has also now become the poster boy of a social media campaign that’s helping people arrange medicine, hospital beds and oxygen.
BV Srinavas told the BBC over the phone that more than 100,000 people have contacted his teams of 1,000 “corona warriors” since India’s second wave, using the hashtag #SOSIYC , or “SOS Indian Youth Congress”
The team also help people identify symptoms and connect them with doctors through phone calls and the internet.
Today, he says they're focusing on sending medication to people at home - those who have not been able to get beds in hospitals.
Mr Srinavas says it’s not easy to operate in such challenging circumstances in the absence of a government plan but stresses this is "not the time for politics".
"We have to fight together collectively to take decisions and save our people.”

Cricketers among Australians stranded in India

Australia joined other nations yesterday in announcing restrictions on arrivals from India.
But the two-week pause on all India flights - including repatriations - leaves 9,000 Australian nationals trapped in the country, many of whom have been trying to get home for months already.
Some cricketers – who went over last month for the Indian Premier League - are among those stranded.
One batsman, Chris Lynn, requested a chartered flight to return home which has been criticised by other Australians online.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison has also said cricketers will not get preferential treatment.

Is West Bengal India's next Covid ground zero?

Amitabha Bhattasali - BBC News, West Bengal
He’s the leader of the opposition Congress party’s youth wing - but has also now become the poster boy of a social media campaign that’s helping people arrange medicine, hospital beds and oxygen.
BV Srinavas told the BBC over the phone that more than 100,000 people have contacted his teams of 1,000 “corona warriors” since India’s second wave, using the hashtag #SOSIYC , or “SOS Indian Youth Congress”
The team also help people identify symptoms and connect them with doctors through phone calls and the internet.
Today, he says they're focusing on sending medication to people at home - those who have not been able to get beds in hospitals.
Mr Srinavas says it’s not easy to operate in such challenging circumstances in the absence of a government plan but stresses this is "not the time for politics".
"We have to fight together collectively to take decisions and save our people.”

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Post by Kitkat Wed Apr 28 2021, 13:18

Drugs disappear - and reappear on the black market


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Social media is awash with desperate calls for help to find drugs hoped to help with Covid symptoms.
And that means that prices for drugs like remdesivir and tocilizumab - both being prescribed by doctors to help with treatment - are soaring.
The BBC has found that the shortage in supply is leading to black marketing of the drugs in the capital Delhi and several other cities where infections are high.
Some agents contacted by the BBC said they still had supply - but wanted several times the official price.
The same goes for oxygen cylinders or concentrators - prices have skyrocketed amid the supply crisis.

How India got to this point


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Hospitals are overflowing with patients, often two to a bed

India's devastating second wave came after a brief - and promising - respite.
Cases had dropped to below 20,000 a day in January and fell further in February, even dipping below 10,000 at one point. But cases began to climb again in March as people started going out more, wearing masks less and stopped following Covid protocols altogether.
A series of huge election rallies in poll-bound states and a massive Hindu festival that drew millions together appear to have hastened the surge.
Cases and deaths rose rapidly, far surpassing the first peak in September last year.
And India's fragile healthcare system has struggled to cope, leaving beds, life-saving drugs and even oxygen in short supply.
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Post by Kitkat Wed Apr 28 2021, 13:31

Pandemic dominates headlines across India

These are the front pages of some major newspapers in India.
Publications are covering issues like the delivery of international aid and the government response so far.
The fact that state elections are going ahead despite the surge in cases has also been highlighted along with the controversy surrounding the pricing of vaccines in the country.
All Indians over 18 will be eligible to sign up for jabs from today although officials are warning of shortages.

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Front page of Indian newspaper Hindustan Times


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Front page of Indian newspaper Indian Express
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Post by Kitkat Wed Apr 28 2021, 15:25

'Each day is struggle against all odds'

Soutik Biswas - India Correspondent
Once again, my morning has been spent scrolling through WhatsApp groups awash with harrowing and desperate queries.
Yesterday, we were trying to help a woman in her early 70s who was struggling at home. Her family managed to get her a nurse and some oxygen. A doctor on consultation also put her on steroids.
This morning, her situation deteriorated, and I woke up to frantic messages like these.
(Names have been changed and this is a sample of the kind of posts on these groups)
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We will be following some of the threads and themes that come up in such groups - it’s been the story of India for weeks now since this devastating second wave.
On a different group, my morning starts with a message mourning the passing away of someone’s mother: "We lost the battle to get her a bed in hospital”.
The next message is an elegy for the dead:
We have been mourning
With every pyre that burns
Our self belief is dying
Each funeral is a story of personal loss
Each day is struggle for fight against all odds
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Post by Kitkat Wed Apr 28 2021, 15:31

If you're just joining us...

Good morning - or afternoon - depending on where in the world you are.
If you're just joining us now, here are some points on the situation in India to bring you up to speed. We are running a special day of coverage on India's crisis, and what it means for the global fight against the pandemic.

  • India has now recorded more than 200,000 deaths - the fourth highest death toll in the world behind the US, Brazil and Mexico and also registered its highest single day death toll
  • The second wave comes after a brief respite - but recent election rallies and a massive Hindu festival which saw millions gather together likely contributed to the rise in cases
  • Hospitals across major cities are struggling, running out of available bed spaces and with oxygen supplies at the brink of running out
  • India will open up vaccine registrations for all adults over 18 today - though officials have warned of shortages and are not sure where the extra shots will come from
  • Our correspondents across the country have been speaking to victims, friends and loved ones - many of them desperate to find some form of help - follow us as we bring you more on this throughout the day


and from The Guardian -
Latest around the world so far today:

  • India recorded 360,960 new cases in the 24 hours to Wednesday morning according to health ministry data, another new daily global record. The ministry also said that India’s total number of fatalities had passed 200,000 to stand at 201,187.
  • As hospital and intensive care beds in the capital, Delhi, have filled far beyond capacity, the instruction from doctors has been for patients to find oxygen for themselves .
  • The Indian Premier League will continue as scheduled , a senior Indian cricket board official has said, despite fierce criticism.
  • Dr Anthony Fauci, the White House’s chief medical adviser, has said countries have failed to unite to provide an adequate global response to prevent the “tragic” coronavirus outbreak from overwhelming India. He singled out wealthier nations for failing to provide equitable access to healthcare around the world.
  • Leading scientists are urging the UK to share the Covid vaccines it has bought with other nations, to tackle the soaring death toll and reduce the spread of the virus and new variants around the world.
  • The EU justice commissioner Didier Reynders has warned that countries introducing their own Covid vaccination certificates would be left with a dangerous myriad of disjointed solutions if the bloc fails to build a joint system.
  • International travellers from the UK will be asked to demonstrate their Covid vaccination and testing status using the NHS smartphone app, the government has confirmed, as transport secretary Grant Shapps promised to release a list of possible holiday destinations within a fortnight.
  • Trade unions in Britain are calling for an immediate public inquiry into the country’s nearly 130,000 deaths from Covid – one of the worst totals in the world.
  • Children from the first three grades in Poland are expected to go back to school next week as coronavirus infections fall, health minister Adam Niedzielski said.
  • Mexico will produce Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine domestically, its foreign minister said on a visit to Moscow.
  • China’s vaccine makers are looking at mixing their jabs and whether a booster shot could help better protect against Covid-19.
  • Pakistan recorded more than 200 Covid-19 deaths in a day for the first time since the start of the pandemic, as the government said it was considering stricter lockdowns.
  • Data from France has shown that the country’s Covid crisis is beginning to ease as French president Emmanuel Macron plans to relax restrictions in the next few days.
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Post by Kitkat Wed Apr 28 2021, 15:41

Containing the virus in India's most populous state

Geeta Pandey - BBC News, Delhi

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With a population larger than Brazil, the northern state of Uttar Pradesh is India’s most populous with 240 million people.
It’s also my home state - my ancestral village is there, and so it's where my roots lie. Just three weeks ago, my relatives back home insisted that corona was a hoax, or a disease that only ravaged big cities. But a few days back, I spoke to them again. They told me about a man who died while being taken from one hospital to another.
The state handled the first wave relatively well, but the second wave has brought an already creaking health system to its knees. Reports from Uttar Pradesh are dire and heartbreaking. With hospitals overflowing with the infected, people are dying on the streets, in ambulances and outside hospitals.
Read more about it.

'Sister help us, doctor help us – you’re God'

Yogita Limaye - BBC South Asia correspondent
It’s hard to believe the scenes we’re witnessing in India’s capital Delhi. Oxygen supplies remain low, beds are scarce, and people are desperate to get treatment for their loved ones. Some people are putting their families in the backs of cars and autorickshaws as they set out desperately in search of help.
On the streets, ambulance sirens are a constant reminder of how Covid-19 is ripping through this city.
I was in a Delhi hospital as one nurse tried to revive a coronavirus patient.
She told me what it's like to work on the very front lines of this crisis:

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Post by Kitkat Wed Apr 28 2021, 15:46

Why the world must take note of India's crisis

The Covid surge in India may seem a million miles away from some of our readers. But the reality is what’s happening in this nation of 1.3 billion people does impact the rest of the world.
For a start, India is the world’s vaccine powerhouse, and any slowdown in production will impact global vaccination efforts too.
Then there is the chance that out-of-control infections will allow further mutation of the virus - potentially developing strains which are vaccine resistant.
For these, and humanitarian reasons, it is imperative the disease is brought under control.

Cases are rising fast in Kerala, an early success state

Ashraf Padanna - BBC News, Trivandrum

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Hailed as a success early in the pandemic, this southern state has had its ups and downs with the pandemic.
Cases are going up again - and rapidly too - but deaths are low and are not rising as fast. It added more than 32,000 cases in 24 hours as of last night and 32 deaths.
Kerala has some of India’s best public healthcare and a surplus of oxygen - it currently has stocks of 510 metric tonnes, as against its maximum daily requirement of around 100 metric tonnes.
It's also preparing for the worst. Manufacturers are going to up daily supply to 1,000 metric tonnes. And oxygen carriers will be accorded the status of ambulances so they can move through traffic quickly.
But Kerala is running short of hospital beds fast and health officials are now advising home care.
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Post by Kitkat Wed Apr 28 2021, 15:51

The woman transporting the Covid dead for free

Geeta Pandey - BBC News, Delhi

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Varsha Verma has been transporting bodies for free from a hospital to the crematorium in Lucknow

Varsha Verma doesn’t remember how many trips she’s made from a hospital to the crematorium in the northern city of Lucknow this past week. The 42-year-old author has been transporting eight to 12 bodies a day for free during this deadly second wave.
Sometimes she's performing the cremations too.
“There is panic and sadness all around. People are very distraught, they are calling for mercy,” she told me.
Ms Verma started doing this after realising there was a problem when she struggled to transport the body of a childhood friend who died of Covid.
She says her family is terrified about her going near bodies of Covid patients, but that won’t stop her from providing this much needed support.

The remote state that added 100,000 cases last week

Alok Putul - BBC Hindi, Raipur
Cases and deaths are rising fast in the tribal central Indian state of Chhattisgarh - currently in lockdown until 6 May.
It’s adding, on average, about 17,600 cases and 246 deaths a day - it's added more than 100,000 cases in just the last week.
This is a worrying prospect given that large parts of the state are remote tribal villages with poor health infrastructure.
Officials say that’s partly why the capital Raipur is the worst-hit city as people rush there for diagnosis and treatment.
The health minister recently said there was no shortage of oxygen but critical care beds are in short supply in the six medical colleges and 37 government-run Covid hospitals.
There are some 7,000 beds equipped with oxygen and 593 ventilators in state-run hospitals and Covid centres. But that's not enough for a state of 28 million people with a steep upward curve.

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Post by Kitkat Wed Apr 28 2021, 15:57

Inside the trains India is using to treat patients

Authorities in India are turning trains into basic medical facilities, as hospitals fill up and patients are turned away. Here's what the inside of one looks like:

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'I am searching for three hospital beds and a crucial drug'

Vikas Pandey - BBC News, Delhi
India’s second Covid wave is unrelenting and I don’t even have to look far to know that – my WhatsApp messages have become a microcosm of what thousands of families in India are going through.
I am still searching for a bed for my GP’s best friend, and also for my friend’s husband and a neighbour.
Last night, another friend reached out, asking if I could find a plasma donor for his 32-year-old brother-in-law who was severely ill from Covid.
(Names have been changed)
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He died while I was putting out frantic calls to to arrange plasma for him.

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Post by Kitkat Wed Apr 28 2021, 17:46

No lockdown in Gujarat despite growing cases

Roxy Gagdekar - BBC Gujarati, Ahmedabad
It's not a hopeful picture in the Indian state of Gujarat, which is governed by India's ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
Cases and deaths have been steadily rising - it had added about 14,300 cases and 170 deaths in 24 hours as of Tuesday night. But the numbers, especially the death toll, could be far higher since local news reports have contradicted official figures for weeks now.
Just getting hold of an ambulance is a demanding task - it takes between two to 48 hours just to book one through the emergency hotline.
And they have no other choice - should they arrive in a private vehicle, they are not admitted. As a result, some people have died outside hospitals.
Despite all this the government has refused to implement a lockdown, saying there is no scientific basis to prove that lockdowns stop the spread of the virus and that lockdowns harm the economy.

Barrage of criticism for Modi as India cases surge

India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi has seen a barrage of criticism in recent days.
An opinion piece in today's Telegraph newspaper did not mince its words, saying "Narendra Modi needs to go."
It isn't alone in its sentiment - an opposition politician has accused him and his government of ignoring scientific warnings to participate in election rallies and allow a massive Hindu festival in northern India.
Dr Navjot Dahiya, the vice president of the Indian Medical Association, called him a "super spreader" who had "tossed all Covid norms in the air."
#ResignModi was even trending on Twitter earlier this week.
State governments, from Delhi to Karnataka, have also been criticised for allowing Covid protocols to lapse and failing to prepare for what epidemiologists say was an inevitable surge.
But the focus is on Mr Modi, who centralised much of the Covid response, and boasted of his government beating the pandemic - until the second wave arrived.

Breaking News 

Goa announces strict lockdown

Goa has become the latest state to announce a lockdown.
Officials said the strict four-day lockdown would last from Thursday night until Monday morning. Many states have announced similar measures as Covid cases surge.
“If people do not step out for the next four days we will be successful in breaking the chain of this surge,” Goa's Chief Minister Pramod Sawant told local media.
Essential services will remain open, while bars will be shut and restaurants will only be open for deliveries. Tourists will not be allowed out of their hotels for the four-day period.
Goa - famous for its beaches and parties - saw a huge influx of local tourists in February and March when cases were low.
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Post by Kitkat Wed Apr 28 2021, 17:51

Uttar Pradesh's chief minister faces social media backlash

Geeta Pandey - BBC News, Delhi

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Oxygen is in short supply across India

The chief minister of Uttar Pradesh, Yogi Adityanath, is trending on Twitter with nearly 22,000 tweets since the morning.
It came after reports that his government had ordered the police to open an investigation against a man who’d sought an oxygen cylinder for his sick grandfather on social media.
He did not mention Covid-19.
His 88-year-old grandfather has since died, but police have accused him of “circulating a rumour with an intent to cause fear or alarm during a pandemic.”
As the virus has spread across the state in the past few weeks, the state government’s handling of the crisis has come in for severe criticism, with many saying the authorities have left people to die.

'We're dying in the streets, where are they?'

Yogita Limaye - BBC South Asia correspondent
Everywhere I’ve gone over the past few days - hospitals, crematoriums - I’m seeing increasing anger against the government. Rati Gadgil was driving around with her mother in the back of her car, trying to find a hospital bed.
"They come to us when they want our votes, and now when we are dying in the streets... Where are they?" she asked me, tears rolling down her face.
One hospital I visited only had a few hours of oxygen left. "We’re only getting assurances from the government, no oxygen," a doctor said.
For one son outside a hospital, it's been an excruciating waiting game. "My father doesn’t know what’s going on. He’s in there thinking it’s all ok and that he will be out soon. But we’re living in fear every minute that oxygen will run out. It is my basic right. What is the government doing?"

What is remdesivir and does it work?

Along with beds and oxygen, Indian social media timelines are full of appeals for the antiviral drug remdesivir. It first gained greater attention when former US president Donald Trump revealed he had received it.
It was developed as a treatment for Ebola, and works by confusing the virus as it looks chemically similar to some of the raw materials the virus needs to replicate. This disrupts the virus’s ability to make thousands of copies of itself.
Indian doctors have been prescribing remdesivir for seriously ill patients and demand is so high that vials are being sold for many times the market price. But there is fierce debate about its effectiveness.
India has approved it for emergency use but the World Health Organization has found it has little to no effect on Covid patients’ chances of survival.
Read more about the controversial drug here.
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Can India make enough vaccines to meet demand?

Shruti Menon - BBC Reality Check, Delhi
The US is helping India with crucial raw materials for vaccine production, after India's biggest vaccine maker, the Serum Institute of India, complained of shortages of specialised imports from the US.
In India, less than 10% of the population has so far received an initial Covid vaccination, and with cases and deaths continuing to surge, ensuring supply is becoming an increasingly important issue.
But does India have the capabilities to meet that demand?
The BBC Reality Check team has investigated that here.

Few can afford oxygen and medicines at soaring prices

Vikas Pandey - BBC News, Delhi
With hospitals in Delhi and many other cities running full, families have been forced to find ways to treat Covid patients at home.
So, many of them have turned to the black market, where prices of crucial drugs such as remdesivir and tocilizumab, and oxygen cylinders, have skyrocketed. But even then supply is no guarantee.
I know a family that cobbled together money to buy the first three doses of remdesivir from the black market, but couldn’t afford to get the remaining three as prices shot up further. The patient continues to be critical.
Another family took a while to find the money because of the high price and by the time they did, the drug was sold out. They are still searching as the patient continues to deteriorate.
Take a look at the graph below from our investigation . It’s frightening to see how much black marketeers are profiteering.

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Most Indian families can’t afford these prices and they watch their loved ones sink without getting crucial drugs.
I have heard this story dozens of times in the past 10 days. While ministers insist that there is no shortage of drugs, the reality on the ground is very different.
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Post by Kitkat Wed Apr 28 2021, 18:06

Students ask to defer fees to help India relatives

Will Fyfe - BBC News
A group of Indian students are asking their university to defer fees so the money can be used to help family back home overwhelmed by Covid-19.
The Cardiff Metropolitan University students say they feel "helpless" and "panicked" watching from the UK.
The university said it could not comment on individual cases but would continue to support students.
Several students who spoke to BBC Wales said they owed thousands of pounds in fees by the end of this month, which their families could no longer afford to pay.
They said they wanted to be able to use any immediate cash to help their families with medical supplies and food.
"A few months back I lost my dad to the Covid situation," said Kylash Indla, who is studying data science.
"Mum was a teacher and dad was a doctor," he explained.
"After the passing of dad, my mum is now not getting any wages. She was a private teacher, so she is now not getting any wages and there is no funding for my family.
"Everything is shut down, there is no income source, there is nothing."
Mr Indla said he felt family members in India did not want to burden him with how bad things had become, but he had heard of some relatives dying due to problems with oxygen supplies.
Read more here.

No beds in Punjab amid surge in critical care patients

Arvind Chhabra - BBC Punjabi, Chandigarh
For the first time this year, the virus's daily death toll touched 100 in the northern state of Punjab on Tuesday, along with a new case tally of nearly 6,000.
The day's news is grim. "With one in 10 Covid patients needing critical care, city runs out of beds," reads one newspaper headline. Here's what some others say:
"8 civil hospitals, zero ventilator in Fatehgarh"
"Patiala hospital sees 31 deaths in 24 hours"
"Vaccination for all above 18 in Punjab may get delayed"
There are nearly 52,000 active coronavirus cases among the state's 28 million inhabitants, with 677 patients on oxygen support.
The government claims there is no shortage of oxygen in public hospitals, but people are struggling to find oxygen and are being forced to buy it on black market.
Starting Tuesday, the state imposed a night curfew from 18:00 to 05:00, and a complete lockdown at weekends. That means everything will be shut, except government offices and essential services.

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Punjab has imposed a weekend lockdown to curb cases
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Post by Kitkat Wed Apr 28 2021, 18:12

Hospitals damaged in Assam earthquake


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A earthquake has hit the Indian state of Assam as the country battles a devastating Covid wave.
The 6.4 magnitude hit Assam this morning, causing widespread damage in the northeast state. No deaths have so far been reported.
Healthcare facilities including Dispur Hospital, Apollo Clinic, Down Town Hospital and Excelcare Hospital were all damaged, the Press Trust of India reports - hindering services.
People also escaped their homes and other buildings in panic, which affected social distancing and other virus measures in the area.
Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, leader of India's main opposition Congress party, said: "To my sisters and brothers in Assam who are now dealing with the double blow of an earthquake and the rampaging second wave of Covid, I send you my love and prayers."

Why are cases being under-reported?

Ashitha Nagesh - BBC News, London
Prof Anup Malani from University of Chicago led a study during the first wave of the virus last year looking at under-reporting of cases and deaths in Karnataka.
He found that the state alone had had more than 31.5 million cases by the end of August 2020. The official figure for the whole of India at that point was only eight million.
He tells me that Karnataka is having the same issues with under reporting that it had then - particularly in rural areas, where there are fewer testing facilities.
He says world health officials need to do population-level surveillance. "It’s like weather stations - we test for weather and pollution not just in the places where there are crises but all over the place.”
Prof Malani adds that India “doesn’t have a great death-reporting registry system” - something, he says, officials should consider improving before a third wave hits.

Oxygen hotspots around the globe


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ndia currently has the biggest demand for oxgyen out of all countries hit by the pandemic. Nearly 90% of the country's oxygen supply - 7,500 metric tonnes daily - is being diverted for medical use.
Here’s a map laying out how India compares to the other global hotspots in Brazil or Iran. None of those other countries has so far experienced an oxygen crisis like we’re seeing in India at the moment.

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Post by Kitkat Wed Apr 28 2021, 18:18

The latest from India's brutal second wave

Welcome to all of you just joining us. As India battles a devastating Covid surge, we're running a special day of coverage across the BBC. Here's a round-up of the latest developments:

  • India has now recorded more than 200,000 deaths - the fourth-highest death toll in the world behind the US, Brazil and Mexico - and also registered its highest single-day death toll
  • However, there is mounting evidence that deaths are being markedly under-reported
  • Hospitals across major cities are struggling, running out of available beds, and oxygen supplies are on the brink of running out
  • Goa - a state famous for its beaches and parties - has become the latest state to announce a lockdown
  • Pressure is growing on Prime Minister Narendra Modi, with critics accusing him of ignoring scientific warnings ahead of the latest devastating wave
  • India will open up vaccine registrations for all adults over 18 today - though officials have warned of shortages and are not sure where the extra shots will come from
  • An earthquake has hit the Indian state of Assam, damaging hospitals already struggling to deal with Covid patients


Hard-hit Maharashtra ditches over-18s vaccines plan due to shortages

The western state of Maharashtra - the home of financial capital Mumbai - will not proceed with a plan to open coronavirus vaccinations to adults over the age of 18 from 1 May, due to a shortage of doses, Reuters quotes the state's health minister as saying.
Rajesh Tope also told reporters the state might extend its lockdown measures for a further two weeks until mid-May.
Maharashtra has been the worst-hit state in the country and is among a number suffering critical shortages of oxygen needed to treat severely ill patients.

Analysis: A tragic sense of inevitability

Rajini Vaidyanathan - BBC South Asia Correspondent

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A man waits outside a factory to have an oxygen cylinder refilled

It’s a horror story on repeat. Every day this week I've woken up to messages from friends and family in India, begging for help.
Social media posts document the desperation. And it’s not just in Delhi, it’s in every corner of the country.
“Can anyone find a bed in Jaipur for a friend’s father?”
“Who can help find some oxygen for a friend’s grandmother in Uttar Pradesh?”
“There are no beds in Pune, what should we do?”
And sometimes the messages are even bleaker. “My neighbour died yesterday,” a friend said yesterday. “We couldn’t get him a bed.”
Watching from afar, images of a broken India are hard to process.
Taxis have been turned into makeshift ambulances. Car parks have become crematoriums. Freedom has turned into fear.
“I worry I might get the virus while I walk my dog,” another friend tells me, as she struggles through Delhi’s ongoing lockdown.
Aid is starting to reach India from overseas. Even regional rivals Pakistan and China have put aside their differences to pledge help.
But nothing is enough, as cases continue to swamp India. As the world looks on at the endless images of burning pyres, there’s a tragic sense of inevitability.
Tomorrow, these scenes will be the same. No cry for help can save what India has already lost.
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Post by Kitkat Wed Apr 28 2021, 18:38

How can we help from the UK?

Question from Kate in UK
Sima Kotecha - Newsnight Correspondent, BBC News
The depth of feeling among people of South Asian heritage here in Britain is inescapable. Watching the constant stream of horrific pictures coming out of what some describe as their motherland has been heart-breaking and draining.
Many are desperate to help, so various UK charities have set up donation pages to raise money for oxygen concentrators as the country grapples with a severe shortage.
British Indian doctors tell us they’re providing advice and support to healthcare officials on the phone, with some arguing they’re more experienced in Covid after dealing with several surges of the virus over here.
Temples are also hosting special prayers for India to provide Hindu worshippers with a place to go and think about their loved ones. One Indian woman who has parents in Delhi told us: “I have little money so all I can do is pray.”

Why it’s so hard to get oxygen to where it's needed

The oxygen India’s hospitals are relying on is not the same as the air we breathe.
It is liquid, pale blue and kept at a temperature of around -183C.
Only around 500 factories in India actually have the ability to extract and purify oxygen from air, with special tankers sometimes queuing for hours in order to get their supply - and that’s before they make their very slow and careful journey across the country.
Find out more here .

Help arriving from overseas but far, far more needed

The past days have already seen shipments of medical aid and equipment from countries around the globe.
On Wednesday, New Zealand joined those ranks saying they'd give around NZ$1m ($720,500) to the Red Cross for its work in India.
Earlier, Singapore sent off two planeloads of oxygen cylinders to West Bengal, the state expected to see the worst rise in cases over the coming days.



England's Health Secretary Matt Hancock said "vital supplies" from the UK were also arriving. Medical kit including ventilators and oxygen equipment - landed in Delhi on Tuesday.



But the huge scale of the crisis means while this is a help, there remains a great need for even more assistance.
One health adviser called the aid for a nation of 1.3 billion "a drop in the ocean".
Zarir Udwadia, who works in Mumbai hospitals and counsels the government, told the BBC's Today programme the currently pledged supplies would have limited effects as he is seeing "ward after ward full of patients struggling to breathe on ventilators of different forms and shapes".
Read more on the aid being sent to India here .
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Complete lockdown to come in 11 districts in Jammu and Kashmir

A complete curfew is to be imposed in 11 districts of Jammu and Kashmir from tomorrow at 19:00 until Monday 07:00 in a bid to contain the spread of Covid-19.
Full details of what's banned and permitted under the lockdown are expected to follow.
On Tuesday, 25 people died with coronavirus in the region, and more than 3,000 new infections were reported. Around 22,283 active positive cases have been reported.

Hope and despair in one afternoon

Soutik Biswas - India Correspondent
Yet another day has been consumed by WhatsApp groups incessantly buzzing with queries about hospital beds, pleas for leads on medicines or distressing news.
We have been following some of the threads and themes that come up in these groups - it’s been the story of India for weeks now since this devastating second wave began.
And today was no different, swinging between snippets of bad news with the occasional good news.
There’s a vaccine shortage in my neighborhood, and stocks ran out a couple of days ago.
And then I get this message: Some 30 doses of vaccines have arrived at a public health clinic. Go and get them before 2pm. Run!
Within minutes, there's another message on my phone.
(Names have been changed)
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How neighbouring China views India's situation

Kerry Allen - BBC Monitoring, Chinese Media Analyst
As China borders India and has a similarly large population, there are concerns there that cases in India could spill over into the country.
China has seen this month how quickly cases can rise via border arrivals; people coming from Myanmar led to more than 100 cases in the city of Ruili in a matter of weeks.
However, China’s leading foreign affairs daily, Global Times, says “India’s surging infections [are] unlikely to impact China.”
Feng Zijian, the deputy director of China’s Centre for Disease Control, says: “China has taken strict precautions to prevent the import of the disease from outside.”
At the same time, China has vowed to provide aid to India.
Its embassy in India said : “We will encourage and guide Chinese companies to actively cooperate with India to facilitate acquiring medical supplies, and provide support and help.”
Before the outbreak, the relationship between China and India had been somewhat rocky ; the two countries have a well-documented history of border disputes.
However, the Global Times says that “a close neighbour is better than a distant relative”.
In recent days, Chinese media outlets have emphasised that traditional allies of India – the US and the UK – have not bent over backwards to offer the same help.
Papers have criticised the US and the UK for not offering assistance with vaccinations, while praising the acceleration of their own drives. Global Times said yesterday that US aid to India was “long overdue”, and outlets are also highlighting a comment made by UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s spokesman, who said: “We don’t have surplus doses.”
Some Weibo users, meanwhile, are of the view that “capitalist” countries have “abandoned India at a critical moment”.
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Post by Kitkat Wed Apr 28 2021, 18:52

Private jet requests coming from desperate families

Ashitha Nagesh - BBC News, London
There have been reports recently of private jet companies seeing a spike in people wanting to leave India for Dubai. But the Indian head of one charter service has told me the vast majority of requests have been from people desperate to fly their Covid-positive loved ones to cities where hospitals have beds.
"Requests to the UAE died down after about one day," Ashish Wastrad, head of Air Charter Service's Mumbai office, says.
"Currently, as sad as it is, the majority of requests we're getting are to move Covid patients domestically in the country from one hospital to the other. It's basically families of patients who are looking to get into a hospital and are trying to see if there are any beds in other parts of the country."
He says the company is doing everything it can to help people, but currently their planes aren't properly equipped to carry Covid-positive patients.

Round-the-clock cremations as families prepare pyres

This post contains images some people may find upsetting.
India's death toll has now passed 200,000. Mortality data there is poor and deaths at home often go unregistered, especially in rural areas - so this is simply the official figure.
People have died waiting for hospitals beds, as oxygen supplies run critically low, and hospitals buckle under the strain.
Crematoriums are also running out of space, with some operating non-stop.
In the capital Delhi, workers have been forced to build makeshift funeral pyres in parks and other empty spaces.
Families have had to wait hours before being allowed to cremate their dead and have also been asked to help by piling wood and assisting in other rituals.
Here are some photographs from Delhi showing the reality for those grieving: workers and relatives taking part in cremations.

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A family member wearing personal protective equipment (PPE) carries wood to prepare a funeral pyre for their relative at a cremation ground

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Funeral pyres have been burning round the clock in some places

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This boy is mourning his father in Delhi

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Family members sit next to burning funeral pyres
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Post by Kitkat Wed Apr 28 2021, 19:01

The 99-year-old granny making free Covid masks

Surinder Maan - BBC News, Bhatinda

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Gurdev Kaur Dhaliwal is back at her sewing machine. The 99-year-old is once again making masks, something she started last year when the pandemic first swept through India.
"I will stitch masks to my last breath because I think this is an actual service to society during Covid," she told me.
And she stitches them on a 100-year-old sewing machine made in Singapore - a treasured gift, she says, from her in-laws.
She wakes up early and calls relatives and friends, asking them to distribute the masks to the poor.
She urges people to wear masks so they can fight the virus effectively.
Cases are on the rise in her home state of Punjab, where wearing masks outdoors is mandatory.
Dhaliwal's efforts earned her the appreciation of Chief Minister Amarinder Singh last year after BBC Punjabi reported her story.



India has lost 45 journalists to Covid in two weeks

Soutik Biswas - India Correspondent
Condolences are again pouring in on the WhatsApp group.
These groups full of strangers have become a powerful symbol of India's Covid story - a place where people share pleas for help, and stories of both loss and hope.
This time, it's the former: another journalist has died of Covid-19, in the southern state of Andhra Pradesh.
"It's so heart-breaking to lose your colleagues like this. May he rest in peace and may God give us strength to fight back," a message reads.
The prayer emojis, hands placed firmly together, have become ubiquitous, sometimes thanking people for helping others get beds, medicines and oxygen; and at other times, announcing Covid-19 deaths.
Early this morning, another journalist was gasping for breath in her Delhi apartment and the message read:
(Names and times have been changed)

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And last night, before I went to bed, someone posted an eerily dystopian clip.
The flashing red lights of the ambulance light up the deserted street. A man steps out of the vehicle and sprints into a building. I can hear a woman wailing inside.

The message read:
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More than 100 journalists have died of Covid-19 in India, according to Press Emblem Campaign, a media group based in Switzerland.
Forty-five of those deaths have come in the last two weeks.
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Post by Kitkat Wed Apr 28 2021, 19:05

Same harrowing story, different state


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Burning pyres are now a familiar sight across India's cities

India is a huge, diverse country but right now the news coming from most places is distressingly similar.
In the southern state of Karnataka, where cases and deaths are climbing fast, local news is dominated by Covid patients desperate for treatment, reports BBC Hindi's Imran Qureshi.
In the last 10 days alone, there have been reports of at least 100 people dying at home or arriving dead at hospitals because they didn't get oxygen in time. Many died while being driven around in auto rickshaws or makeshift ambulances from one hospital to another in the dead of the night.
But the long line of ambulances outside hospitals and the winding queues at crematoriums are just as familiar a sight in the northern state of Punjab.
BBC Punjabi's Arvind Chhabra reports that local media there is also filled with heart-wrenching stories of people fighting to get their loved ones the medical care they need and, when they don't make it, struggling to find a place to put them to rest.
In one instance, the bodies of two Covid patients were ferried to the crematorium on a hand-pulled cart as no ambulances were available.
In both states, the rising deaths have also spotlighted a discrepancy between official death tolls and the higher numbers being reported in local media.

Russia to deliver emergency aid and vaccines

Russia will deliver emergency aid to India as it battles its deadly coronavirus wave, President Vladimir Putin has told Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
"Vladimir Putin expressed words of support to Narendra Modi in this difficult period in the fight against the spread of the coronavirus infection," the Kremlin said in a statement.
The deliveries will include 20 units of equipment for the production of oxygen, 75 artificial lung ventilation devices, 150 medical monitors and 200,000 packages of medicines, it said.
Meanwhile, the first batch of the Russian vaccine, Sputnik V, is set to arrive in India on 1 May, The New Indian Express reports today.
It has not yet been revealed how many doses will be delivered.
It's worth remembering that while all aid is valuable, India is a country of 1.3 billion people - so the impact of overseas support will inevitably be limited.
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Post by Kitkat Wed Apr 28 2021, 19:07

Gas leak footage fuels Covid misinformation online

Reality Check and BBC Monitoring
Despite the gravity of the pandemic in India, there are still those spreading misinformation online about the situation.
A video showing people collapsing in public after a deadly gas leak at a chemical plant in southern India is being widely shared and linked to the current Covid crisis in the country.
The images are from a factory gas leak in May last year in the city of Visakhapatnam in Andhra Pradesh state.
The fumes caused some people to faint and drop unconscious on the streets.
The BBC wrote a story about this at the time.
The misleading video, a montage of several clips taken in the aftermath of the leak, went viral across multiple social media platforms as "evidence" of the severity of the current Covid surge in India.
It was also widely posted among anti-vaccine and anti-lockdown groups, who claimed India’s surging pandemic would be used to fuel fear and promote vaccine uptake and further lockdowns.
On Twitter, one post by an anti-lockdown account claimed the video had been staged using actors. It has had over 100,000 views.
In the past year, videos erroneously claiming that the pandemic is exaggerated or a hoax have spread widely among both fringe groups and to audiences at large.

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The images were taken from an incident last year when people collapsed as a result of a gas leak
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Post by Kitkat Wed Apr 28 2021, 19:13

Bengaluru doctor: We were not prepared for this

Ashitha Nagesh - BBC News, London
Bengaluru is one of the worst-hit cities in India, with some estimates saying there are about 300 active Covid cases per square kilometre.
I've just spoken to a senior consultant at a government hospital in Bengaluru about the situation there. They've asked to remain anonymous, as healthcare workers have been advised not to talk to the media.
"We were not prepared for this second surge," they say. "For the first surge it was well organised - as soon as we came to know [of the virus] everything was streamlined and we were much better prepared. This time there are more cases, it was more sudden, and the situation was not prepared for."
They say that in the first few days of the surge, people whose cases weren't severe "rushed in" and admitted themselves into hospitals, which then led to a shortage of space for those more in need.
"I think people are all panicked," the doctor adds.

'The helplessness I feel is draining'

Vikas Pandey - BBC News, Delhi
This day, like the last few, has not been going well. I am still fielding panicky calls and messages from close friends and family, trying to do whatever I can to help.
Last evening, my neighbour messaged, looking for both a bed and a drug that is in short supply.
(Names have been changed)

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This morning I was still hunting for hospital beds - for her father and for two of my friends.

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I have been getting more news of deaths than recoveries in my immediate circles.
The mind goes numb. The sheer helplessness I feel is draining. I know the sense of loss far too well having lost a loved one barely a few days ago.
But none of us had any time to grieve as more friends and family went down with Covid.
My neighbour still needs the remdesivir for her father-in-law. Her mother-in-law is in hospital fighting for her life.
Her mother is also very sick and we are now looking for a bed for her.

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Post by Kitkat Wed Apr 28 2021, 19:17

85-year-old Covid patient dies after giving up bed

An 85-year-old Covid patient who gave up his hospital bed to make way for a younger patient has passed away at home, India Today reports.
Narayan Dabhalkar reportedly walked out of a hospital in Nagpur, Maharashtra, despite suffering coronavirus himself, after seeing a woman pleading with staff to admit her 40-year-old husband.
“I am 85,” he reportedly told staff. “I have lived my life. Saving the life of a young man is more important. Their children are young… please give my bed to them.”
The retired statistician died three days later at home.


A report by The Times of India quoted an unnamed hospital official who said the younger patient might not have been allocated Mr Dabhalkar's bed, but that his act would have certainly helped with overcrowding on the ward.
“Whom to give the bed is the prerogative of the doctor,” the official said. “Although Dabhalkar leaving would have certainly eased the pressure by creating space for someone else.”

'Delhi is now a scary place'

Soutik Biswas - India Correspondent
“For the first few days, I was tearing up. Now my tears have dried up and I have gone numb.”
This morning, I called up a photographer friend of mine who has been on the road for most of the past year, documenting the pandemic. Now he’s in Ground Zero, the national capital, Delhi, taking pictures of the unfolding tragedy. He prefers to remain unnamed. “I’m not the story,” he says. “The pandemic is.”
I asked him how he was doing, going out every day, double-masked, armed with sanitiser and drinking water, and sometimes riding a bike to hospitals, crematoria and hotspots to chronicle the consequences of a fierce second wave and the meltdown of a health system.
“I feel helpless now. Sometimes you don’t want to shoot, but it is our job to document what is going on so the world knows. It’s a big responsibility,” he told me.
“At the same time I feel small, I feel inferior that I am not being able to help people struggling outside emergency rooms and on roads for oxygen and medicines and beds.”
Many of them don’t make it.
I asked him what he felt about some people saying photographers should not be taking pictures of burning pyres because it amounts to “death porn”.
"This is not about creating images, this is about recording things as they are happening," he says.
And he knows this is important to grieving friends and relatives because they have come up to him while he photographed funerals and said, "You guys should show to India and the world what is going on".
He has covered floods, earthquakes, a tsunami and terror attacks in the past, but the second wave of the coronavirus, he says, is “different”.
“Everything is so overwhelming. I haven’t seen so much death and misery. The subjects of your pictures become part of you because they are seeking help. There’s a lot of raw emotion”.
“And I'm praying every minute, God, take care of me. Delhi is now a scary place.”
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Post by Kitkat Wed Apr 28 2021, 19:21

Man charged over oxygen SOS for dying grandfather

Police in India are prosecuting a man who used Twitter to try to find oxygen for his dying grandfather.
Officers in Uttar Pradesh state charged Shashank Yadav with spreading a rumour over oxygen shortages "with intent to cause... fear or alarm".
Mr Yadav, who did not refer to Covid in his brief tweet, could face jail.
Uttar Pradesh is among India's worst-hit states. Its chief minister, Yogi Adityanath, is accused of downplaying the severity of the coronavirus crisis.
Earlier this week, Mr Adityanath, a right-wing ally of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, demanded that the property of anyone spreading rumours and propaganda be seized.
He also said that none of the state's hospitals lacked oxygen, although scenes have unfolded of an overwhelmed health system.
Read more here.


There's no one around to turn to for help'

BBC Radio 5 Live
Radhika Howarth lives in London but is currently stuck in Gwalior in Madhya Pradesh state, where she has been caring for her 84-year-old mother.
Radhika arrived in India on 30 March and was allowed to enter Gwalior after spending a week in quarantine in Delhi.
Before that, she had not seen her mother, Shamoli, for 18 months because of the pandemic.
Shamoli was in need of support after she recently had a fall and her carer had to stop visiting because of the surge in Covid-19 cases.
Radhika told BBC Radio 5 Live in the UK that she did not even want to step out of her front door, for fear of herself or her mother catching coronavirus.
"What I am hearing is very grim, all we can hear outside are the sirens of ambulances up and down… it just makes your heart sink," she said.
"I feel guilty even asking for a test [PCR Covid-19 test] to be able to fly back because I know people are desperate to get the test and get the treatment."
Radhika said hospitals had put out signs saying ‘No beds available.’
She and her mother have essential supplies but they are currently sticking to one meal a day to try to manage.
“I want to come back, but I don’t want to come back, because how will people like my mother cope?" she said.
"In a situation like this you are so disempowered, you have no rights, and there’s no one around to turn to.
"It’s just me and my mum and when you call people… everybody’s in the same situation," Radhika said.
Listen to 5 Live on the free BBC Sounds app.

IPL cricket still presses ahead in India

Despite the continued rise in cases and deaths across India, the Indian Premier League - the world's top Twenty20 competition, compromising the world's best players - is continuing.
The tournament has moved to Delhi - where a match is taking place right now - and Ahmedabad, after starting in Mumbai and Chennai.
There have been no cases within the tournament, which is taking place in a bubble, but some overseas players have started to leave the tournament because of travel restrictions that their home countries are putting into place.
England's Liam Livingstone left Rajasthan Royals, while Australia's Andrew Tye, Adam Zampa and Kane Richardson have all departed. India spinner Ravichandran Ashwin has also decided to take a break to "support his family".
Despite that, the tournament is expected to continue, with a senior IPL official arguing it keeps people's spirits up.
"We should not underestimate the power of sport to spread positivity. It's probably more important now to hold the IPL, when there is so much negativity around," the official told Reuters.
"At least fans are absorbed in it at home. Otherwise many of them will step out without masks.
"The league generates considerable money for the economy. It has to be seen from that context too. How does stopping IPL help?"
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Post by Kitkat Wed Apr 28 2021, 19:24

Is West Bengal India's next Covid surge zone?

Amitabha Bhattasali - BBC News, West Bengal
It was only a couple of weeks ago when the mood in West Bengal state was "There is no more coronavirus, why use a mask?"
That has now changed.
Cases in the state are surging in the wake of huge election rallies - and it's likely to be the next big hotspot.
The eastern state in is the middle of a heated election and rallies are continuing. Some of the biggest ones, including those attended by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, have seen throngs of people not wearing masks or maintaining social distancing.
Although Modi has since cancelled his rallies, amid mounting criticism, local politicians are yet to do so The election commission has now limited them to a maximum of 500 people.
There is also no lockdown or curfew in the state - despite a new high of 16,403 new Covid cases over the past 24 hours.

Newscast: How do we stop more countries suffering like India?

Dr Clare Wenham, assistant professor of global health policy at the London School of Economics, has been telling the BBC's Newscast podcast what the world needs to do to stop more countries suffering like India.
She said: "Rather than sending donations, we need to stop them getting like that, massively ramping up global distribution and global production of vaccines."
Which country could be next?
"I think Peru is one to look at, the numbers there are getting really scary", said Dr Wenham. "What the last 14 months has taught us, is that if you take your eye off the ball for a second and get complacent, it can happen anywhere."
Read more here on why India's crisis matters to the whole world.

India's 'shadow pandemic'

Geeta Pandey - BBC News, Delhi
With Covid has also come the "shadow pandemic" - a term the UN has used to describe the steep rise in cases of domestic violence.
The country’s National Commission for Women says it received 23,722 complaints of crimes against women in 2020 - the highest in the past six years. Of those, almost a quarter were complaints of domestic violence.
The trend has continued into 2021 - with 1,463 complaints of domestic violence reported between 1 January and 25 March.
In rural India, many men who returned home from the cities after losing their jobs brought along financial stress and fears of sickness. Some took out their frustrations on their wives and children.
The frequency and the brutality of assaults are said to have gone up, says Urvashi Gandhi of charity Breakthrough, with its partner NGOs "receiving frantic calls to rescue women trapped in unsafe homes".
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Post by Kitkat Wed Apr 28 2021, 19:28

Getting oxygen to people in Mumbai's slums

Ashitha Nagesh - BBC News, London

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Shishir Joshi is from Project Mumbai, a non-profit working on Covid relief for people living in the city's slum areas.
He tells me that last year they mostly focused on getting food and funds to people below the poverty line who weren't able to work in lockdown - but now, the priority is healthcare.
"We are also now providing what we call oxygen concentrators," he says. An oxygen concentrator is a machine that allows someone to have oxygen treatment administered at home - and with hospitals in the city packed to capacity, it is becoming a vital piece of equipment.
"We started a project to provide these machines to people below the poverty line in Mumbai - for free of course.... In the absence of hospital beds, people need oxygen concentrators."

'Almost everyone knows someone who's lost a loved one'

Rajini Vaidvanathan - BBC South Asia Correspondent
Back in January, it was the beginning of India’s vaccination drive. In Delhi, brightly coloured balloons hung over an archway to the hospital entrance.
On that day, there was a mood of celebration. The hospital’s medical director, Suresh Kumar, smiled from under his mask. It was a smile of relief - as he told me how wards which had been dedicated to coronavirus cases were now able to treat other, routine conditions.
Covid-19 cases were low, and many thought India was past the worst.
Months later, and that couldn’t be further from the distressing reality. Gone are the balloons and buoyancy - replaced instead by a sense of desperation.
Back then there were around 10,000-15,000 cases reported a day - with under 100 deaths. Now there are more than 300,000 daily cases, and more than 2,000 daily deaths.
Scrolling through my social media feeds I see message after message, written by families struggling to find beds for friends and relatives. Indian health experts I’ve talked to believe the numbers dying with, or because of, Covid are far higher than the official statistics.The pyres that burn through the night at some of the crematoriums are visual testament to this.
How did India get here? Many say it was a sense of complacency. Mass gatherings had taken place, with no social distancing and few people wearing masks.
In my circle of friends in Delhi, almost everyone now knows someone who’s lost a loved one to Covid-19.
A friend’s three-year old son has the virus – doctors say they’re seeing more younger patients this time round.
The joy of that January morning has now turned into sheer horror, which is unfolding across the country.
Listen to more from Rajini on BBC Sounds here .
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Post by Kitkat Wed Apr 28 2021, 19:48

Has Covid reached the island villages of Odisha?

Ashitha Nagesh - BBC News, London

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In the vast, 1,100 sq km Chilika Lagoon in Odisha lies a group of island villages - cut off from the mainland, and accessible only by boat.
Dr Manoranjan Mishra, head of an organisation called Jeevan Rekha Parishad (JRP), says access to food and education there has been limited over the past year because of lockdowns.
JRP organises food deliveries to the islands via local volunteers, to avoid people from the mainland travelling over.
The impact has been particularly hard on the Dalit community, formerly known as "untouchables".
"They have no income, no connectivity, no electricity... because they're completely excluded from the mainstream of society," Dr Mishra tells me.
But has the virus itself reached the islands?
"Fortunately, you'll not believe, the island people are completely safe," Dr Mishra tells me. "Not a single positive case has been found so far. Nobody is going there, and they're not going out - so they're completely safe."

Treating the street communities of Kolkata

Ashitha Nagesh - BBC News, London

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Right now Soma is working on getting medical supplies and treatments to people living on the streets of Kolkata. She's just finished an ambulance round with the Hope foundation, and is heading back into the hospital when I speak to her.
I ask how her day has been so far, and she replies with one word: "Hectic."
Her hospital has 45 beds and 40 of them are currently occupied by confirmed Covid patients. The remaining five are suspected to have the virus. On top of that, they're facing the same dire shortages of equipment and oxygen that are hitting medical centres across the country.
Vulnerable people, she says, "are coming here from across West Bengal," after failing to get admitted to government hospitals.
"This is because there is no proper treatment for these people from our government."
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Post by Kitkat Wed Apr 28 2021, 19:56

In pictures: The harrowing wait for treatment

The surge in cases has meant delays in people getting admitted to hospital.
As these pictures from today show, patients have been left waiting in cars or rickshaws in the western city of Ahmedabad.

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The husband of Nanduba Chavda adjusts her oxygen mask as they wait in a car

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Aminbanu Memon, wearing an oxygen mask, sits in an autorickshaw

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Madhuriben S Parmar speaks to her family on a video call as she waits to get into hospital

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A woman waits in a queue of ambulances for her turn to be admitted to hospital
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Post by Kitkat Wed Apr 28 2021, 20:00

'The problem could be 10 times worse than reported'


Ashitha Nagesh - BBC News, London
It's widely agreed among experts that both cases and deaths are being under-reported in India right now - and one expert tells me that she thinks the real figures could be as high as 10 times the official numbers in some areas.
Dr Amita Gupta is a professor of medicine in international health at the US-based Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and she facilitates the university's partnerships with clinics and labs across India.
"We were estimating that the problem is 10 times worse in places like Maharashtra than the official numbers, based on what we're hearing," she says.
One of the main problems is that only people with symptoms are being tested, and even then testing labs are already at capacity.
"We've heard from many of the big lab chains around India... they're running 24/7 and are essentially overrun with tests. There's only so many they can test."

India’s biggest hotspot is back at the top

The western state of Maharashtra, which has been India's Covid ground zero from the start of the pandemic, is back at the top after briefly reporting a drop in cases.
The state, among India’s richest and home to its financial hub, Mumbai, confirmed more than 66,000 cases last night.
That’s more than any other state, adding to an active caseload that is already the highest in India.
Maharashtra accounts for more than a quarter of India’s 17.9 million cases and nearly a third of India's 201,000 deaths so far.
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Post by Kitkat Wed Apr 28 2021, 20:04

Pictures from a city in lockdown

The city of Mumbai - which sits in the state of Maharashtra, India's biggest hotspot - has been in complete lockdown for two weeks.
There's a sense of deja vu - the pictures are eerily reminiscent of a period of time last year when large parts of the entire world went into a state of lockdown.
But the pictures are a reminder that for millions in India - this is still their reality.

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Post by Kitkat Wed Apr 28 2021, 20:07

Thank you for joining us

We're winding up our live coverage of Covid in India, which formed part of a special BBC day of focus on the country's devastating pandemic.
Here is a round-up of today's main developments:

  • India has now recorded more than 200,000 deaths - the fourth-highest death toll in the world behind the US, Brazil and Mexico - and also registered its highest single-day death toll
  • However, there is mounting evidence that deaths are being markedly under-reported
  • People have died waiting for beds, as oxygen supplies run low and hospitals crumble under the strain
  • Much of India opened up vaccine registrations for adults over 18 today - though officials have warned of shortages and are not sure where the extra shots will come from. In Maharashtra, the state's health minister said it would not proceed with the plan due to lack of supply
  • Russia will shortly join several other nations in delivering emergency aid to India - as well as doses of the Sputnik V vaccine


The live page was brought to you by:
Soutik Biswas, Vikas Pandey, Geeta Pandey, Ayeshea Perera, Rebecca Seales, Martha Buckley, Aparna Alluri, Suranjana Tewari, George Wright, Ashitha Nagesh, Georgina Rannard, Lauren Turner, Hamish Mackay, Mary O'Connor, Tessa Wong, Frances Mao, Andreas Ilmer, Yvette Tan, Callum Matthews, Ritu Prasad, Jasmine Taylor-Coleman and Emily Wolstencroft. We are grateful to our team of BBC languages reporters in India, Asia-based correspondents, visual journalism team, BBC Reality Check, and contributors in the US and UK.

    Current date/time is Mon May 17 2021, 15:01