India has rapidly become a breeding ground for corona, with more than 300,000 infections per day. “It is not so much the virus that causes this crisis, but the wrong policy,” says activist Harsh Mander.
We have not only solved our problems but are helping the world fight the pandemic, ”Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi proudly patted himself at the beginning of this year. His country had survived the corona epidemic without too much damage. Barely three months later, India has become the world’s largest source of fire and a local corona variant is causing international unrest.
For the sixth day in a row, India registered more than 300,000 new infections on Tuesday. On Sunday there were 350,000 positive tests, which is an international daily record. Experts warn that these figures are a considerable underestimate, partly because of insufficient test capacity. Because only the severely ill are tested, up to half of the corona tests are positive in some regions.
The Indian healthcare system is almost stifled due to the corona spike. Hospitals do not have enough beds, respirators and oxygen to accommodate the massive influx of patients. And because the crematoriums are already running at full capacity, the dead are cremated on pyres in the open air. The more than 2,700 deaths that occur every day are probably also a serious underestimate.
“The fear is omnipresent,” said Harsh Mander, an Indian writer and social activist. Doctors testified how patients died on the street due to a lack of beds and oxygen. “The havoc among the nursing staff is also great. I just heard another testimony about an intensive care unit without doctors or nurses. The patients were dependent on each other.”
The devastating second wave is the result of hasty easing since the beginning of this year. “Not so much the virus caused this crisis, but wrong policy decisions,” says Mander. He refers to the meetings that Modi recently held for upcoming elections in some federal states. “Tens of thousands of followers came, packed closely together and without a mask.”
Even the Hindu festival Kumbh Mela, in which more than 10 million people took part, could take place without restrictions. The Hindu nationalist Modi did not dare to upset his supporters. And so believers in the holy place of Haridwar flocked to take a dip in the Ganges. Mander: “All those people returned home afterwards, to all corners of India.”
Modi seemed to face the gravity of the situation last weekend. “We were confident after successfully tackling the first wave, but this storm has shaken the nation.” Not only the controversial mass rallies rekindled the epidemic. An Indian corona variant, B1617, also surfaced, which may be more contagious than the original.