The region around Varanasi, one of the holiest cities in the world for Hindus, is one of the worst hit by the second wave of coronavirus that wiped out India.
Now, an angry mass of people in this region in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh are asking where their Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is at the time of their need.
India̵7;s devastating second wave has driven the country to have a total of 20 million infected and more than 220,000 deaths in Varanasi.With its overflowing health infrastructure, patients are unable to find hospital beds. Oxygen or ambulance can be longer, and COVID visits can take up to a week.Over the past 10 days, most pharmacies have run out of basic drugs, such as vitamins, zinc and paracetamol.
“We have a lot of cables saying it helps us get bed or oxygen,” said the local doctor, who doesn’t want to be named. “Because most of the basic drugs are in short supply, people are even taking expired drugs,” he said. “They said it was slightly less effective. But at least it’s something. “
What caused the spread of the virus?
Residents said the first signs of the problem were seen in March. As the cases unfold in Delhi and Mumbai and authorities begin to impose restrictions, migrant workers begin returning home to their villages in and around Varanasi by overcrowded trains, buses and trucks.
Many returned home to the Holi festival on March 29 or to vote in the village council elections on April 18 without expert advice. More than 700 teachers who served polls have died in the state and elections, the report said, helped spread the virus.
Varanasi’s hospitals were soon flooded and people were left to take care of themselves.Rishabh Jain, a 25-year-old businessman based in the city, told the BBC that when his 55-year-old aunt fell ill he had to drive 19. Miles (30 km) daily to queue up to five hours to refill the oxygen tank.
“We panicked when her oxygen levels dropped below 80,” he said. “We couldn’t find a hospital bed, so the family started banging on the phone for oxygen tanks. We tried 25 numbers for 12 to 13 hours, and finally, too. Help from social media and district administration is recovering. “
Alarmed to the situation on April 19, the Allahabad High Court ordered the closure of Varanasi for a week and four other cities in the state, saying the outbreak was causing the disease. “Our medical infrastructure is incompetent.” The state refused to enforce and challenge the Supreme Court’s injunction, arguing it must “Protect both life and well-being”
Now, critics say the government can’t do either. As the district administration imposes inconsistent weekend curfews and as most businesses and stores shut down from fear, thousands of people are losing their livelihoods and the virus continues to spread.
So far, Varanasi has been infected with 70,612 cases and 690 deaths, but 46,280 or 65% have been recorded since April 1. SUNDAY, government data was stated at 16, but everyone I spoke with in Varanasi ignored these numbers as just fiction.
Long-lived townspeople who lived close to Harishchandra and Manikarnika ghats, two of the main cremation areas on the banks of the Ganges, said funerals had not stopped in the past month.
Previously, the two locations between them would have been 80-90 cremated per day, but in the past month, residents said he believed the number had risen to around 300-400 per day.
“How do you explain this increase?” He asked. “These people are dying from something as well, most reports say they have heart disease and lung failure. How can I die from a heart attack? “
The latest video shared by the residents of Varanasi shows the corpses lining either side of a narrow alley leading up to a kilometer-long cremation site. Authorities opened two new cremation sites about 10 days ago, but are reported to be open all the time.
The virus has spread to villages.
The tragedy did not stop at Varanasi, a second wave of deep penetration into small towns and villages in the state of Sudhir Singh Pappu, head of the Chiraigaon group, a 110-village group with a population of 230,000 in the suburbs. Varanasi told the BBC that each village had reported the deaths of 5 to 10 in recent days. In some villages, he said tolls were as high as 15 to 30.
“There is no hospital in this building, no oxygen, and no medication,” he said. “Government hospitals are nowhere to be found. Private hospitals ask for a 200,000 rupee (£ 1,953 or $ 2,705) deposit to £ 500,000 before viewing a patient. We have nowhere to go. “
Kamal Kant Pandey, a village resident of Aidhe, said he thought the situation in his village was worse than in the city. “If you test everyone in my village, at least half of the 2,700 people will be positive, so many people have coughs and fever. Low back pain, weakness, loss of taste and smell, ”he said.
The deaths in Aidhe were not officially imported into the database because “There is no test here,” said Pandey, who was ill with the virus. But was fully restored
“Imagine this was the prime minister’s constituency and until then we could hardly breathe,” he said.
‘Modi is hiding’
Mr. Modi often talks about His “special bond” with the Ganges River, the ancient city of Varanasi and its people. But as the virus destroys the city and the medical infrastructure collapses, Modi is still unable to see his constituency.
Residents watched as their MPs made 17 trips to the major political state of West Bengal between February and April to campaign for the general election there, where he lost so badly over the weekend.
An angry restaurant owner described Modi’s review meeting to discuss the coronavirus crisis in Varanasi on April 17, the day before the village council election as a “joke”.
“The Prime Minister and Chief Minister have hid and left Varanasi and its people to their own destiny,” said the restaurant owner. “Local BJP leaders are also hiding, they turn off their phones, this is the time people need. Have them help with the hospital bed or oxygen tank. But it’s all anarchy here, people are so angry. ”
Gaurav Kapoor, a Congress politician, said the penalty. “Live with none other than the Prime Minister.” “The womanizer stopped with him, the blame for every death in the past month and a half in Varanasi – and in India – was at his doorstep,” said Mr. Kapua. Said
Like many townspeople, Kapoor suffered too, he lost one night of his aunt and uncle back to Covid and his friend’s brother was fighting for life in the hospital. When I called him for an interview on Friday, he was in a room at his home infected with the coronavirus.
He said when the numbers first started rising he got a call for help finding a hospital bed or an ambulance.
“But people realize it’s pointless, the claim right now is an oxygen tank,” he said.
The situation, by all accounts, tends to get worse before it gets better, Varanasi falls into chaos and the image in the suburbs and in rural areas where supplies are scarce is even worse.
“The doctors there told me they didn’t have an oxygen meter, so the patients couldn’t sleep when their oxygen levels were low,” said the owner of a diagnostic center in Varanasi.
“When my wife and children were infected, I called the doctor and did whatever he advised. But what about an illiterate man in a village without a doctor on the call? Do you know how he lives?
Charts and data analysis by Shadab Nazmi.