NEW DELHI (AP) – Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi faces growing pressure on Friday to impose a strict blockade across the country, despite the economic pain it will overcome as the alarming surge in coronavirus cases has spurred the country’s healthcare system. , shows no signs of weight loss
Many medical experts, opposition leaders and even Supreme Court judges have called for national restrictions, arguing that a set of state rules is insufficient to curb the rise in infections.
Indian television stations broadcast images of patients lying on stretchers in front of hospitals waiting to be admitted, with a shortage of hospital beds and critical oxygen. People infected with COVID-1
As death rises, crematoria and cemeteries are covered with bodies, and relatives often wait for hours to perform the last rituals for their loved ones.
The situation is so dramatic that there are traders calling for a strict blockade who know their business will be affected but see no other way out.
“Only if our health is good will we be able to win,” said Aruna Ramji, a florist in the southern Indian city of Bengaluru. “Locking will help everyone, and the spread of coronavirus will also decrease.”
The alarming picture has caught the world’s attention, just as many developed countries see that vaccinations are reducing infections and starting to open up. The unrest in India has served as a warning to other countries with fragile health systems – and also weigh on global efforts to end the pandemic as the country is a major producer of vaccines, but is forced to slow down the export of shots.
Infections have spread in India since February in a catastrophic twist, accused of more contagious variants as well as government decisions that allow massive crowds to gather for religious festivals and political rallies. On Friday, India reported a new daily record of 414,188 confirmed cases and 3,915 additional deaths. The official daily death toll has remained at over 3,000 in the last 10 days.
This has resulted in more than 21.4 million COVID-19 infections and more than 234,000 deaths. Experts say even these dramatic tolls are insufficient.
In the past month, nearly a dozen of India’s 28 federal states have announced some restrictions, but they have failed to impose a nationwide blockade imposed last year, which experts say has helped control the virus for some time. These measures, which lasted two months, included orders to stay at home, a ban on international and domestic flights and the suspension of passenger services in the country’s extensive railway system.
The government provided free wheat, rice and lentils to the poorest for almost a year, as well as small cash payments, while Modi also promised an economic relief package of more than $ 260 billion. But the lock, imposed with four hours’ notice, also stopped tens of millions of migrant workers who lost their jobs and fled to the villages, many of whom died on the way.
National constraints caused the economy to shrink by a staggering 23% in the second quarter of last year, although a strong recovery was under way before infections jumped recently.
Some who remember last year’s trials remain against full lock.
“If I had to choose between dying of the virus and starving to death, I would choose the virus,” said Sham Mishra, a construction worker who was already forced to change jobs and start selling vegetables when the capital was locked up. , New Delhi.
Modi has so far left the responsibility for fighting the virus in the current influx of poorly equipped state governments and faces accusations that he is doing too little. His government has opposed doing everything possible amid a “crisis once a century”.
Due to lack of oxygen, the Supreme Court intervened. He ordered the federal government to increase medical oxygen supplies to New Delhi after 12 COVID-19 patients died last week after the hospital ended in 80 minutes.
Three judges called on the government this week to impose a blockade, including a ban on mass rallies, in the “public interest” interest.
Dr Randip Guleria, a state health expert, said he believed a full lock was needed, as last year, especially in areas where more than 10% of those tested had COVID-19.
In a letter to Modi on Friday, Rahul Gandhi, the leader of the opposition party in Congress, also called for a complete blockade and government support to feed the poor, warning that “human costs will have far more tragic consequences for our people.”
As the world watches India anxiously, some outside its borders have joined the talks. Dr. Anthony Fauci, the best infectious disease expert in the United States, suggests that a complete stop in India may be needed in two to four weeks.
“As soon as the cases start to decrease, you can vaccinate more people and anticipate the trajectory of the pandemic outbreak,” Fauci said in an interview with India’s CNN News18 on Thursday.
However, Modi’s policy on selected conclusions is supported by some experts, including Vineta Bal, a scientist at the National Immunology Institute. She said that different countries have different needs and local specifics must be taken into account for any policy to work.
In most cases, where health infrastructure and expertise are good, localized restrictions at the state or even district level are a better way to limit the spread of infections, Bal said. “Central locking will simply be inappropriate,” she said.
Srinat Reddy, president of the Indian Public Health Foundation, a public-private consultancy, acknowledged that the intensity of the pandemic was different in each state, but said a “coordinated strategy for the whole country” was still needed.
According to Reddy, the decisions should be based on local conditions, but should be closely coordinated, “like an orchestra playing the same music, but with different instruments.”