Indian woman wishes her country was in similar position to JamaicaFriday, May 07, 2021
BY ROMARDO LYONS
An Indian woman who shared the gloom that the novel coronavirus pandemic has cast over her home city on Thurday said she wished her country was in a similar situation to Jamaica as it relates to COVID-19 deaths and infections.
The 21-year-old woman, who wished to be identified only as Jamila, and who asked that we not name her home city, told the Jamaica Observer that she lost two family members to COVID-19 in the last month, while her other relatives cling to life in isolation.
“I am very worried. Recently, in the past one and a half months, I have lost three members from my extended family — two of them due to COVID. One of them was in his late 40s, and the other was 77 years old,” she said in a Twitter interview.
“My best friend has caught COVID and has been in isolation for the past few weeks, and a few of my other relatives have also been in isolation due to COVID, which is why it is scarier. The second wave has been horrible for people in metropolitan cities,” she said.
India is battling a second wave of novel coronavirus infections that has seen patients die in the streets outside hospitals due to shortages of beds and oxygen.
On Thursday, the country of 1.3 billion people reported almost 3,980 COVID-19 deaths and more than 412,000 infections — both new daily records. The death toll, up to yesterday, stood at 230,168 and the total caseload since the pandemic began is now over 21 million.
Jamaica's COVID-19 statistics for yesterday were not available at press time, but on Wednesday the country recorded 144 new cases and four related deaths. Total deaths from the virus in Jamaica stand at 798, while the island has recorded 46,338 cases since the start of the pandemic. Of that number, 21,893 have recovered.
According to Jamila, in comparison to India, Jamaica is lucky.
“It makes me wish our country could be in a similar position to Jamaica, but it also makes me incredibly glad that most of Jamaica is safe from this pandemic. We have thousands of deaths and cases in a day, so it's incredibly concerning,” she added.
The Indian Government has linked the second wave to a double mutant variant that was discovered in March. But also in March, pilgrims to Kumbh Mela, a religious festival lasting several weeks, which began on March 11, saw more than three million people gathered outdoors amid the pandemic.
Kumbh Mela is celebrated once every 12 years by Hindus who believe that a dip in the River Ganges, which is regarded as holy, will wash away their sins.
“Currently, the city I live in is on complete lockdown, and the public is enraged, because while they shut the small business or shops that helped people earn their daily bread, their political rallies were still on,” Jamila said in reference to five regional elections held over the past month.
“But the public is also terrified, because the cases have been rising, and this time around we're facing a lack of beds, oxygen tanks, and there has also been an increase in the number of deaths,” she said.
Jamila said her family has been doubling down on precautions to be 100 per cent safe.
“Since I take all of the precautions and make sure that my family is constantly taking precautions too, we have been safe. Alhamdulillah (praise be to God). There are rumours of a nationwide lockdown,” she said, noting that she will be getting vaccinated soon. “They only made vaccination available for people over 18 recently,” she said, adding that she will be getting vaccinated after Ramadan, the ninth month of the Islamic calendar observed by Muslims worldwide as a month of fasting, prayer, reflection and community.
“Our schools, colleges, and training institutions are trying their hardest to make sure education level remains the same. They even ask kids to wear their uniforms and sit in an isolated area where they cannot be distracted by other sources. However, most of the students are finding it difficult to cope with learning,” she explained.
Meanwhile, another Indian woman, Divya Srinivasan Breed, who is living in the United States, told the Observer Thursday that perhaps the Narendra Modi Government was too generous with vaccine donations.
“I think India was initially more generous with distributing vaccines to the world, especially compared with the USA. But at the time the COVID cases in India were quite low. People were not expecting a surge of this magnitude there. Vaccinations now will help slow down the spread, but they won't save the people who are already sick and dying. The Government of India should have acted sooner to get people to [wear] masks and avoid large gatherings,” said Srinivasan Breed.
On March 8, India donated 50,000 doses of AstraZeneca vaccines to Jamaica. That was Jamaica's first shipment of COVID-19 vaccines. A week prior, India donated 175,000 doses of AstraZeneca vaccines to Antigua and Barbuda, St Kitts and Nevis, and St Lucia among other countries.
Srinivasan Breed said there is a sense of uneasiness and concern when she communicates with senior members of her family in India.
“Many of my family members are elderly and therefore vaccinated, but they are still scared for the younger generations. Friends of mine are worried and staying home, except for essentials. Some are asking me for advice since California, where I live, went through a very bad period back a few months ago.
“It's very strange for me, especially emotionally, since much of the USA is celebrating low numbers, high vaccination rates, and a hope to return to open living. I'm finding it hard to share the jubilant feelings when the situation back in India is so terrible. I worry for all my family and friends there. A distant uncle passed away a couple weeks ago, and a family member's friend also recently died, both from COVID,” she told the Observer.
“I am horrified by the number of daily deaths in general. Cremation is how Hindus always lay their dead to rest. The problem is that there are rites to go along with that, and those are sometimes being skipped because people are dying so fast. It's terrible, much in the way it's bad in for Christians who cannot hold funerals,” Srinivasan Breed said.
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