New Delhi (CNN) – Six weeks ago, the Indian Health Minister Announced The country was in the “final stages” of the Govt-19 epidemic. This Friday, for the second day in a row in India, a large number of new cases were reported in a single day since the outbreak.
The The second wave Beginning in mid-March, India has devastated communities and hospitals across the country. Everything is low: beds in intensive care units, medications, oxygen and respirators. Bodies pile up in corpses and crematoriums.
India reported 332,730 new cases on Friday, the highest daily in the world. The United States is in second place, with a maximum of 300,310 cases as of January 2nd.
India’s population is four times the population of the United States, and its daily cases are even smaller when adjusted to population size (in cases per million people).
But the truth is that India now has a total of more than 16 million confirmed cases and nearly 187,000 related deaths University of Johns Hopkins.
“We are putting into practice the worst phase of the epidemic,” said Chandrika Bahadur, chairwoman of the Lancet Commission on COVID-19 in India on Wednesday. “The situation has been bad for two weeks, but now it has peaked.”
That peak shows no signs of abandonment at any time. As India plunges into crisis, many wonder: Where are the country’s leaders?
State ministers and local government officials in the worst-hit state of Maharashtra have been preparing for action since February, warning of a second wave. On the contrary, there seems to be a leadership vacuum in the central government because Prime Minister Narendra Modi did not talk about the situation until recent weeks.
Response from Indian leaders
In widespread reports throughout April, Modi spoke and agreed about the national vaccination initiative “Dangerous” Cases increased, but in addition to ordering states to increase testing and surveillance and urging people to remain vigilant, control measures were slow.
He continued to praise the country’s success as states imposed new restrictions and hospitals began to run out of space. “Despite the challenges, we have more experience, resources and vaccination,” his office said A news release April 8. Two days later, he celebrated the administration of 100 million doses of the vaccine nationwide, tuiteando They “strengthen efforts to ensure a healthy and Govt-19 independent India.”
Until Tuesday, Modi finally stressed the urgency of the situation and presented new measures to the nation in a night-time speech. “The country is once again waging a major war against Govt-19,” he said. “A few weeks ago, conditions improved, and then came the second wave.”
But by then, the eruption in India was already the largest in the world in terms of absolute daily numbers. According to the World Health Organization, nearly 28% of the new cases in the world last week came from India.
Harsh Mander, a writer and human rights activist, said on Thursday that the crisis and the administration’s struggle to respond to it showed “absolute arrogance and a kind of arrogance in decision-making.” “The government has shown efficiency, compassion and utmost transparency.”
Modi, who won the landslide re-election in 2019 with his Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), is gaining great popularity in India. Even last year, when the country’s economy was hit by a tight shutdown and everything was put on hold, Modi often escaped bad headlines and crushed the polls that other world leaders had to fight.
But this wave is much bigger than the previous one. People have been exhausted for more than a year by the epidemic. Patients and their loved ones, unable to get the care they need, have turned to social media to ask for medicine and free hospital beds. Experts, who have been warning for months that a second wave is imminent, are frustrated that their warnings have not been heeded.
The complaints spread through social media last week. Tens of thousands of people took to Twitter with hashtags like #ResignModi, #SuperS spreaderModi, #WhoFailedIndia. Political figures, including state officials and former officials, demanded greater accountability and criticized the government’s handling of the crisis.
“The struggle against Govt 19 in India is a reflection of the government (Modi)”, Chidramaiah tweeted on Monday, Former Chief Minister of the State of Karnataka. The government may have been surprised by the first wave, but he said, but “What is the situation now? The forecast is not even desperate now.
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, a member of the Trinamool Congress, has called for Modi’s resignation. “The prime minister is responsible,” he added. “He did nothing to stop the coup and he did not allow anyone to stop it.”
Experts and health workers say the public is dropping their security with a false sense of security after the first wave subsided, which is why the second wave progressed so quickly, but the attitude of this hope was worsened by government officials. Modi and Minister Health Harsh Vardhan celebrated the apparent recovery of the country with great fanfare. The leaders did little to encourage public meetings, which allowed for several weeks of Hindu pilgrimage, with millions of participants traveling across numerous states.
Election campaigns without action against Govt-19
This time the anger also increased as Modi flew to hold political rallies while meeting his ministers about the eruption.
The four states and one union territory are holding elections for their state assemblies, including West Bengal, a key battleground currently ruled by Banerjee’s Trinamool Congress party, which has never had a BJP government.
It has become the main target of the BJP and Modi has held numerous rallies in the state with thousands of people between March and April.
However, as the cases escalated, many of the contesting parties withdrew from the campaign. The main opposition Indian National Congress announced last Sunday that it would suspend all public rallies in West Bengal. Banerjee said his party would also hold short rallies due to the epidemic.
The BJP announced that it would limit its rallies to “small public meetings” of 500 people. Modi was scheduled to travel to West Bengal on Friday for a campaign rally, but announced that he would cancel his visit to attend high-level meetings on Thursday.
But Modi and BJP rallies in March and April, and his delayed performance, undermine the message he has sent to the public to raise awareness, Mander said.
“Ordinary people are being blamed,” he said. “But what we see is that the Prime Minister has added a lot of people, none of whom are wearing masks and not keeping any distance at political meetings.”
The suffering of the people on the streets of India
This week, the government launched a series of initiatives, including plans to supply 100,000 oxygen cylinders across the country, new oxygen production plants and hospitals dedicated to Covit-19 patients.
But while states and hospitals are waiting for much-needed assistance, a black market has developed to fill the void, highlighting the lack of resources for federal officials.
Earlier this week, Viswaroop Sharma, a 22-year-old student, took his father, who was seriously ill, to a hospital in Delhi but could not get beds or oxygen. They had to wait outside, where “nothing, he died in front of me, in my arms,” Sharma told CNN.
When he returned home, he found that his mother was also infected and that he was having difficulty breathing. Frenzied, he bought an oxygen cylinder on the black market, put an oxygen mask on her, and drove from hospital to hospital for several days.
‘That hope was completely shattered’
The deficit is particularly bad because the country has a long way to go to prepare, Mander said.
“They have a whole year to do it,” he said. “Suddenly across the country we see these really criminal flaws. When you start looking, no orders are placed and companies are not pressured because they are not manufactured.
He added that the tragedy and frustration in the country could create a deep generational gap between the people and its government.
“A lot of things were broken last year, but one of them is optimism,” Mander said. India’s poorest and most vulnerable residents “believed that if things got worse, we would be protected by our government and our bosses. That hope is completely shattered… they are on their own.
Yet Modi’s reputation may save him from public backlash and defend his position of power.
When Modi was re-elected in 2019, Mander said there were already “very few illusions”. The economy was in trouble without small employment; The agricultural sector was in crisis, which led to a series of struggles by farmers across the country. Despite these many problems in the hands of Modi, his policies and his Hindu nationalist agenda won him a loyal following at a time when tensions were rising between Hindus and Muslims in the country.
Even now, with thousands of people dying every day, “none of this seems to weigh against the government’s popularity,” Mander said.
It can only be explained by the “power” of its Hindu nationalist platform.
It remains to be seen how this epidemic will affect Modi or his party in the next general election in 2024, he said.
In the meantime, the public must deal with the fear, pain and sense of abandonment of those devastated by the eruption.
“New Delhi is getting worse day by day and it is turning into hell,” said Sharma, who returned home after seeing the hospital bed open. “They didn’t accomplish anything.”
“I am completely helpless,” he added. I’m so scared, I’m scared. I don’t want to lose my mother like I lost my father. I can’t live if I lose my mother.
– CNN’s Aditi Sankal and Isha Mitra contributed to this report.