A deadly second wave of coronavirus infections is devastating India.
Leaving millions of people infected and putting stress on the country’s already overtaxed health care system.
Officially, by the end of April, more than 17.9 million infections had been confirmed and more than 200,000 people were dead, but experts said the actual figures were likely much higher. In the same period, India was responsible for more than half of the world’s daily Covid-19 cases, setting a record-breaking pace of more than 300,000 a day.
Months ago, India appeared to be weathering the pandemic. After a harsh initial lockdown, the country did not see an explosion in new cases and deaths comparable to those in other countries. But after the early restrictions were lifted, many Indians stopped taking precautions.
Large gatherings, including political rallies and religious festivals, resumed and drew millions of people. Beginning this spring, the country recorded an exponential jump in cases and deaths. By April, some vaccinated individuals, including 37 doctors at one New Delhi hospital, were found to have contracted the virus, leaving many to wonder if a more contagious variant was behind the second wave.
Many in India already assume that the variant, B.1.617, is responsible for the severity of the second wave. The variant is sometimes called “the double mutant,” though the name is a misnomer because it has many more mutations than two.
It garnered the name because one version contains two genetic mutations found in other difficult-to-control variants. Researchers outside of India say the limited data so far suggests instead that the variant called B.1.1.7, which has affected Britain and the United States, is more likely to blame. So far, the evidence is inconclusive, and researchers caution that other factors could explain the viciousness of the outbreak.
Infectious disease experts say a combination of political, biological, behavioral and meteorological factors fuelled the current outbreak. The surge comes on the heels of a “super-spreader” pilgrimage along the Ganges River and a series of political rallies leading up to recent assembly elections.
In West Bengal, which is turning out to be the new ground zero of infections, tens of thousands of people attended rallies. On Thursday, the state added over 17,000 cases, bringing its total to nearly 800,000 since the pandemic broke. Officially, West Bengal has reported 11,248 deaths, and India as a whole has reported more than 208,000 deaths. But experts suspect government tallies mask the true extent of the suffering.
Overwhelmed by new cases, Indian hospitals cannot cope with the demand, and patients in many cities have been abandoned to die. Clinics across the country have reported an acute shortage of hospital beds, medicines, protective equipment and oxygen. The Indian government says that it has enough liquid oxygen to meet medical needs and that it is rapidly expanding its supply.
But production facilities are concentrated in eastern India, far from the worst outbreaks in Delhi and in the western state of Maharashtra, and it can take several days for supplies to reach there by road. Families of the sick are filling social media with pleas for oxygen as supplies run low at hospitals or because they are trying to administer care at home. Some in Delhi say they have paid at least 10 times the usual price for oxygen, and the news media have carried reports of cylinders being looted from hospitals.
India is one of the world’s leading vaccine manufacturers, but it has struggled to inoculate its citizens. Less than 10 percent of Indians have gotten even one dose. Now, the country’s pain may be felt around the world, especially in poorer countries. India had planned to ship out millions of doses. But given its stark vaccination shortfall, exports have essentially been shut down, leaving other nations with far fewer doses than they had expected.
Scientists are still studying the Indian variant and conducting genome sequencing to determine what effect, if any, the mutation has. But some experts warn the new variants pose a clear risk, observable even before formal data has been collected. Crowded areas in hard-hit cities that saw nearly 50% antibody levels during the first wave are now still reporting positivity rates of more than 25%, said Babu. “Clearly, it means that any protection against the earlier variant is not really useful because of the newer variant spreading faster.”
The two vaccines approved for emergency use in India don’t stop transmission of the virus, and at present can only reduce severe disease or hospitalisation. Data released by the government show that post-vaccination, around 2-4 persons per 10,000 have tested positive. Of the 10.03 crore who received only the first dose of Covishield, 0.02% (17,145) tested positive; and of the 1.57 crore who received both shots, 0.03% (5,014) tested positive. For Covaxin, 0.04% (4,208) of the 93.56 lakh who received only the first dose tested positive, as did 0.04% (695) of the 17.37 lakh who received both doses. This means that people who have been vaccinated should continue to follow Covid-appropriate behaviours.
In Indonesia, we do the strict policy towards India Citizen. Indonesia will stop issuing visas for foreigners who have been in India in the past 14 days to prevent the spread of different coronavirus strains, a government minister said on Friday (Apr 23). India is facing a health crisis, including the impact of a “double mutant” strain of COVID-19, with the country posting the world’s highest single-day increase in cases on Friday for a second day, surpassing 330,000 infections.
“Based on these observations, the government has decided to stop issuing visas for foreigners who have lived (in) or visited India in the past 14 days,” chief economic minister Airlangga Hartarto said on Friday. The curbs follow the arrival in Indonesia of a chartered flight from Chennai carrying 129 people, 12 of whom tested positive for COVID-19.
Samples had been taken for genomic sequencing, said health minister, Budi Gunadi Sadikin. “Lots of people still enter Indonesia,” he said. “We must be careful of those entering from South Asian countries. “Indonesians arriving from India will be allowed to enter, however, but must follow stricter health protocols and quarantine. Indonesia, the world’s fourth most populous nation, has among the worst COVID-19 epidemics in Asia, with more than 1.62 million cases and 44,000 deaths as of Thursday.
Indonesia is doing a lot of efforts to prevent the massive outbreak of corona virus again. Indonesia also still implements a partial lockdown wherein public and commercial activities are restricted to certain hours of the day. Domestic travel is not restricted but is dependent upon a COVID-19 test result. The policy always changing due to the current situation. The government began its COVID-19 Vaccination Program on January 13, 2021.
It is split into four phases with healthcare workers receiving the first batch of vaccines, followed by public servants and then other members of the public. The government aims to inoculate a total of 181,554,465 people by early 2022. As of April 29, 2021, as many as 12,280,765 Indonesians have received their first vaccinations, or 167,877 more than the day before. Meanwhile, 7,566,371 people have received their second vaccination, or 191,913 more than the previous day. Find the data here: https://www.kemkes.go.id/
Official tally by the Indonesian COVID-19 Task Force here: https://www.covid19.go.id/*
Meanwhile, as of April 29, 2021, for Indonesia’s capital city of Jakarta, as many as 1,878,269 people have received their first vaccination, while 1,182,862 people have received their second vaccination. Find the data here: https://corona.jakarta.go.id/id
Indonesia is really being careful due to the current pandemic. We are still doing strict COVID-19 protocols to avoid the massive outbreak. We do our best on screening the India Citizen inside the airport or outside the airport just to make sure we are not worsening the condition. Countries around the world are now trying to help India face the crisis.