India has been facing shortages in its battle against coronavirus despite aid flowing in from all over the world.
For two weeks now, countries across the globe have been delivering assistance packages to India – oxygen concentrators, medicines, testing kits, masks and even ventilators.
However, patients have been dying in hospitals because of oxygen supplies. Social media is flooded with SOS calls for drugs and injections.
Indian courts have come down heavily on the political leadership. India’s second wave has been relentless.
As the steep graph moves up, the shortages have cut deeper with hospitals and doctors stretched beyond limits.
A doctor in Delhi compared the situation to an earthquake. He said governments need to go beyond just supplying oxygen. The sudden onslaught of cases has left Indian hospitals gasping for breath.
Dozens of countries have pledged assistance to India.
Military planes filled with ventilators, oxygen supplies and anti-viral drugs have been rushed to New Delhi but the big question is whether the lifesaving consignments have reached those who need them.
Governments have been fighting for supplies in courts as judges have pulled up leaders.
On Tuesday, the Delhi High Court asked the central government why it shouldn’t be sued for contempt over the supply of oxygen.
The court said: “While we are going on with the hearing there are several hospitals and nursing homes saying they are not getting oxygen, where do you think all that oxygen is going if it’s sufficient? are you living in ivory towers?”
On Wednesday, the matter reached India’s Supreme Court.
The top court stayed the contempt order of the Delhi High Court. It asked the central government to present a plan to ensure Delhi gets its share of oxygen.
The court’s observations were sharp “between the centre and state putting officers in jail or hauling them up for contempt, the people of Delhi won’t get oxygen”.
Similar hearings took place at the Allahabad High Court.
The court took up the matter suo motu after the death of patients in Lucknow and Meerut due to the lack of oxygen.
The judges said those responsible for supplying oxygen to hospitals are committing a criminal act and it amounts to genocide.
Also, questions are being raised outside India.
Last week the US State Department was asked if it was tracking the aid it had sent to India.
A reporter said there should be accountability for the “US taxpayers’ money”, Washington replied it was doing its best to make sure India’s needs are taken care of during the crisis.
Some answers came from the government of India this week. It said a cell within the health ministry is responsible for coordinating the receipt and allocation of relief material with nearly four million items donated across 24 categories which have been sent to 38 healthcare facilities across India.
However, it’s not enough. India has been adding more than 300,000 cases every day. It needs more supplies and fast.
Meanwhile, experts both in India and abroad have been making dire projections.
A team at the Indian Institute of Science said India could see more than 400,000 deaths by June, if cases continue to rise at the same pace.
Experts at the University of Washington predicted even worse – their model forecasts more than a million deaths by July, if the present surge is not crushed.
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