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India’s Covid-19 crisis leaves the country sad

Jayant Malhotra says he will never forget the sight of the corpse.They arrived in a relentless and urgent stream for cremation — a free service offered by him and his father in New Delhi. Victim of Covid-19.. Exhausted workers struggled to keep up with the scale of death by preparing a series of funeral crematorium lines, as solemn Hindu rituals became a symbol of common sorrow in the besieged nation.

“We had 20 cremated by noon. Before we finished them, we had 10 more. By the afternoon, we had 10 more,” said Malhotra, 23, in the capital. I talked about the weeks of April and May. “We have seen such horror.”

Each body had a story of life and death. A man died in a hospital parking lot where he spent the night waiting for a bed to become available. Their bodies were collected by volunteers from homes and morgues because the others were parents and their children lived abroad and could not return. According to Malhotra, the coronavirus struck the home, mourning the loss of two, sometimes three, and even four members of the family.

Relatives of the victims of Covid-19 held their last rites in New Delhi on Monday.


Photo:

The Wall Street Journal’s Sumit Dayal

The Covid-19 surge is a national tragedy and one of the worst in India’s 74-year history as an independent nation. Since mid-April, more than 140,000 people have died. The virus overwhelmed the medical system And left millions of people vulnerable. New incidents have occurred every day since early May, but Indian journalists digging into the records and traversing the hinterland reveal many times more evidence of death than government figures indicate. I will.

Not only did the death toll increase, but the image of panic and despair became a symbol of the pandemic.

The Covid-19 crisis in India has resulted in a record number of cases and deaths. The WSJ analyzes the sequence of events that have led to the fastest-growing wave of infection since the outbreak of the pandemic and what it means for the world. Photo: Samuel Rajkumar / Reuters

The corpses found on the banks of the Ganges were swollen and rotten, some wrapped in a plastic cover and some not, as the crematorium ran out of space and the family ran out of money.A doctor who is aired with tears Plea of ​​oxygen, 30 minutes of supply left in the hospital, or 1-2 hours warning before the patient begins to die. A torrent of social media posts from hospital beds, oxygen cylinders, and families looking for medicine forced them to rely on civilian saviors and black markets to prevent death.

“The closest thing we are to living now is actually 1918,” said Chinmay Tumbe, referring to the flu epidemic that hit the world about a century ago and affecting India. I recorded it in my book. The era of pandemics. “The fact that so many people have died and so many have lost their loved ones … but also the double shock of financial damage.”

Earlier this month, a family of Covid-19 patients outside a hospital in Kolkata, India.


Photo:

Indranil Aditya / NurPhoto / Zuma Press

Back in 1918, Tumbe said it was the second wave of the disease that was the most devastated, as it is now. Although the size of the pandemic across the centuries varies widely (estimated deaths from the influenza pandemic in India range from 6 to 20 million), the response between them is unmistakable, he said. I did.

“Looking at 1918 or now, I would argue that many were infected, but not so many needed to die,” he said. In the early 20th century, undernourished and sick, it was the mismanagement of food grain supply by British colonial rulers in India that exacerbated the crisis more than necessary.

Many Indians want the Covid-19 crisis to spur a messy review of the country’s health care system.

On Monday, at the Covid-19 Care Center in New Delhi, a doctor wearing protective equipment held his cell phone over for the patient.


Photo:

idrees mohammed / EPA / Shutterstock

Dr. Shah Alam Khan, an orthopedic surgeon at the All India Institute of Medical Science in New Delhi, said: “They happen because the patient couldn’t go to the hospital, because they didn’t have a bed, and because they didn’t have oxygen. Such death resulted in another kind of atrocities.”

Shaoib Abdul Hameed saw Covid-19 attack his family in the Indian city of Bangalore from his home in Melbourne, Australia. His parents, grandmother, two aunts, and uncle all got sick last month. With his parents in the hospital, his sister, who lives in Melbourne as well as 35-year-old Hamed, travels to India with Australian authorities because Australian rules prohibit citizens from leaving without approval. I applied for permission. They were rejected.

Hamed tried to monitor the condition of his parents, but it was difficult to get information from an overkill doctor. Hamed learned that his father wasn’t receiving the treatment he needed because his cousin himself had a doctor’s intervention and the hospital’s intensive care unit was full. They moved their father to another hospital, but they had already lost valuable time.

The patient’s family was sitting outside the hospital in Kolkata last month.


Photo:

Sudipta Das // Pacific Press / Zuma Press

On May 4, Hamed’s maternal grandmother died. Three days later, his 62-year-old father died. Hamed was watching on his phone via WhatsApp video call while his uncle was burying him. “During his last trip, I couldn’t even go there with him. I don’t think that feeling will go away for the rest of my life,” Hamed said.

Hamed said he was having a hard time picking up the pieces. His mother, who survived the battle with Covid-19, must deal with the loss of her husband and mother alone. Hamed is now wondering why he left India.

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“The most traumatic part was looking at my mom from here,” he said. “I can’t hug her and I can’t comfort her.”

Soham Chatterjee was in India but said he also felt helpless. On May 12, a few days after her mother was admitted to Kolkata Hospital on Covid-19, doctors said she didn’t have much time. Mother and son were very close. Sanga Mitra Chatterjee has taught his son to sing since he was four years old. In a video call arranged by hospital staff, Chatterjee, who himself was infected with Covid-19, sang to his unconscious mother. A Hindi song from the 1970s, the two played together many times at a family dinner.

“I had to sing to her again at the end,” said Chatterjee, a 24-year-old writer at an information technology company.

His mother, 48, died the next day. Impressed by his musical compliments, the doctor tweeted about the episode and chorded with a sad country. Chatterjee says he has received a ton of messages from people across the country who share the story of their loss. “They are messages from the bereaved family,” he said.

Earlier this month, volunteers cremated the victims of Covid-19 in a village outside Bangalore, India.


Photo:

Samuel Radikmal / Reuters

Write to Niharika Mandhana at niharika.mandhana@wsj.com

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India’s Covid-19 crisis leaves the country sad

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