Lack of Tests & Ventilators: How Rural India Is Facing COVID Surge

·2-min read

COVID infections are now spreading fast in India's rural areas where 65 per cent of the country's population lives. And India's rivers are witness to the kind of devastation the infection is bringing to India's hinterland.

A mass pile of shallow graves were found along river banks in Uttar Pradesh's Unnao district. Dead bodies have been floating up in rivers flowing through Bihar’s Buxar district and Ballia and Ghazipur districts in Uttar Pradesh over a reported shortage of firewood as the number of COVID-related deaths are on the rise.

In fact, Hindi daily Dainik Bhaskar reported that over 2,000 bodies were found floating or buried along Ganga in UP on a 1,140 km stretch. Even though officials in some districts have claimed the dead bodies don’t belong to locals, this is certainly an indication that COVID is ravaging the countryside.

The number of cases may be showing a decline in some of the worst-affected cities, the figures from rural areas are indicating a spike in cases.

In one of India’s India's hotspots, Maharashtra, the situation appears to be stabilising in cities like Mumbai. Reports say that at least 32 per cent of the state’s daily cases are now coming from the rural or the peri-urban pockets – like those in districts like Akola – which have over 6,000 positive patients – or Washim, which has over 4,000 patients – or Gondia, which reported a death toll of 631 patients till 16 May.

Rural districts in other high-risk states – like Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Bihar and Rajasthan – are also grappling with high infection and mortality rates.

There there are several factors contributing to the worsening situation. The reluctance of testing, lack of awareness of COVID norms, migration from urban areas to rural villages, insufficient and inaccessible healthcare facilities – a dangerous combination of all these factors is leading up to an emerging crisis in the rural areas now.

to understand the magnitude of this crisis, for this episode, we got in touch with three volunteers – Harshit from UP's Sitapur, Somu Anand from Bihar's Saharsa and Seema Buckshee, who's coordinating relief work in rural areas of Maharashtra. They explain how the situation is on the ground and the delicate state of healthcare infrastructure in some of India's rural areas. Tune in!

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