A pandemic in crisis in rural India

New Delhi — The second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic in major cities in India is drawing attention, but the situation in the vast countryside is a concern. Those who fight the pandemic point out poverty, lack of consciousness, and fear as complex factors.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi warned in a speech on May 14 that the pandemic was progressing rapidly. Spread in the Indian countryside He urged the public to take precautionary measures.

In the Indian countryside Over 640,000 villages over- 890 million people, This is more than double the total population of the United States. Not only are they very diverse culturally and linguistically, they are also geographically diverse, with some areas close to urban areas and others very remote, such as in the highlands of the Himalayas.

“I want to warn you about Corona. This pandemic is spreading rapidly in rural villages. All governments are trying to stop it. But this is recognized among the rural people and of Panchayati Cooperation is just as important, “said Modi.

“All governments” means that Modi is the government of India’s 28 states and eight federal territories, of which the most populous countries are larger than many European countries. Panchayat meant the governing body of the village.

Southern Karnataka with a population of 64 million Reported its best weekly death Tolls for 3,500 people from May 7th to May 13th since the outbreak of the pandemic last year.

When the blockade was imposed in Bangalore, the capital of Karnataka, on May 3, more than 600,000 people were from the city to the countryside, according to Nagashima G. Lao, director of the Child Reitz Trust, a charity dealing with children and gram. Moved to the family home of panchayats (legally licensed village municipality) in four districts of the state.

Mr Lao said people leaving the capital worsened the situation in the countryside because they did not follow social distances when traveling by public transport. Seven people died during the second wave of the pandemic in his village of Charatti, 14 miles from the city of Bangalore. Charati has 105 families and a population of 600, and when Lao spoke to the Epoch Times on Sunday, there were 40 COVID-19-positive people in the village.

“If you have a fever or other symptom, if you go to the hospital, get a test, or die in isolation, I don’t think anyone will come to get a test, so I won’t try it.” Lao said. Also, not everyone in the village has a mask, and those who do can’t afford to change it often, so use the same mask for a couple of weeks.

He said people are getting rice and some other groceries from the government for free. There are various charities operating in rural areas, but awareness is a big issue for rural people. He urged the government to give free masks locally.

“Children are suffering from depression because the newscasters show corpses every day, and some patients are dying in front of the hospital,” he said, working with children for over 20 years and now in psychology. Said Lao, who is offering. Telephone counseling.

Epoch Times Photo
On May 3, 2021, police officers tie a face mask to a woman after rural police launch a free taxi service for villagers at the COVID-19 Coronavirus Testing and Vaccination Center on the outskirts of Amritsar. (Narinder Nanu / AFP)

More panic and fear

Apeksha Suryawanshi, a charity community worker called Karapandori, works in three villages in the Latour district of Maharashtra in western India. She told The Epoch Times on the phone Saturday that the village community had taken precautions during the blockade during the first wave of the pandemic. During the second wave, there are more panics and fears among people.

She said last time that ASHA (Accredited Social Health Activist) workers were actively taking villagers to the inspection, although the pandemic was less severe. This time, they are worried about catching the infection themselves and are reluctant to take the villagers to the inspection center.

“If a person is tested positive, they will be asked to live in the field. [where they build a makeshift hut].. It has become a kind of rule, “said Apeksha. When someone comes from outside, the villagers voluntarily stamp them and have them quarantined at the village school.

She said the government was giving people free rice and wheat during the second wave, but that wasn’t enough because people were forced to live on rice, which wasn’t their staple food.

Madhukar Galfade, a colleague of Apeksha who works as a community organizer in 13 villages in Lanapur block in Latter, said there was a lot of fear about going to the hospital in the countryside.

“Because the people who went there died. That’s why people tend to take medicine at home. Most of the vaccination registrations are also online. Many rural people still don’t have access to the internet. Government vaccinations It doesn’t reach people until it reaches all the homes, “Galfade said.

During the first wave of the pandemic, the Epoch Times traveled to the hinterland of La Tour for a week in 15 villages last November to report on the socio-cultural impact of the pandemic on the community. During the second wave, these villages arrived by phone this week.

During the last pandemic, Maya Solte was interviewed by The Epoch Times at a school in the district of Chuckle.

Solte, who is a survivor of child marriage, worked to prevent child marriage during the blockade. According to Sote, the second wave was so panicked in her area that five of the 14 people who died from COVID in her village, Wabwar, died of a heart attack.

“People are suffering from panic and illusions. Sote said of the panic caused by the spread of news of oxygen deficiency in hospitals reported in the media, especially in the capital New Delhi. Second wave.

She said that in her village of 800 families, Wabwal, almost every family has a COVID-positive person.

Epoch Times Photo
Taken on June 9, 2020, a Certified Social Health Activist (ASHA) worker with a woman during a door-to-door survey after the government eased the national blockade imposed as a precautionary measure against COVID. Talking and checking the inhabitants. 19 coronaviruses in the village of Bahadapur in the Meerut district. – (XAVIER GALIANA / AFP via Getty Images)

Petition the government

Vikas Sharma, a wholesaler of Bulandshahr in the Uttar Pradesh district of northern India, more than 60 miles from the capital Delhi, was receiving calls from rural areas of his city about people with symptoms like COVID. ..

There, Bikas petitioned the district’s security judge, and within two days of his phone call, the district administration ordered a COVID test in the village he emphasized.

When the Epoch Times talked to Bikas on May 13, it was more than a week after the test began, he said, more than half of the people in those villages were tested, with a positive rate of 10-15 percent. was.

“I got a call and said that 50 people are sick in this village and 20 people are sick in another village and no one can help. Next, find the village, visit and confirm. When I visited such a village, I heard that 12 to 13 people had died. After that, I wrote a letter, had people sign it, and submitted it to the district administration, “Sharma said. He added that a team of people travels to a few new villages every day.

Vikas emphasized two villages, Elna and Kelawan. More than 15 people died in each of these villages in a week.

His team has a doctor-recommended COVID drug kit in their car, and when they find someone with COVID symptoms in the village, they work with doctors in the city for video counseling.

According to Vikas, government resources are limited and will be used when reports or requests come from somewhere.

“Even if five, seven or ten people get sick, they should go ahead and ask the local government for inspection,” Vikas said, and people take such reports for granted. He added that it shouldn’t be. “If two to four people die in some villages, people need to notify the nearby primary health care center (PHC) and health care workers should visit the village to check the situation.”

There are 23,391 Primary health center Although there are 145,894 subcenters covering more than 72% of India’s rural population, PHC is not well equipped to deal with pandemics, according to many sources the Epoch Times discussed about this report.

Multiple sources interviewed for this story, including Vikas, shared that each PHC tested only 25-50 COVID cases on a particular day, which is not sufficient. The Epoch Times could not verify these statistics individually. “When people force them, it may go up to 100,” Vikas said.

Bikas lost his father to COVID last year and he is devoting his work to him. Although he has a relationship with political parties, he claims to be currently coordinating with volunteers from various political parties and charities for COVID relief in the village of Bulandshahr.

“Another problem is the lack of internet literacy, so registration of vaccinations in the village,” says Vikas. For the 18-44 age group, the process is online, but for the 45 year old above, registration can also be done on the fly.

Epoch Times Photo
Healthcare workers inoculate border guard (BSF) personnel with Covishield, ChAdOx1nCoV-19 coronavirus vaccine at a municipal hospital in Ajinara village, about 17 miles from Amritsar, on April 1, 2021, when India spread the coronavirus. Did. Vaccination drive for groups aged 45-60. (Narinda Nanu / AFP)

Vaccinations and rumors

Attorney Neerav Sharma, 32, registered for vaccination online and traveled with her brother to the Primary Health Center in the village of Kherwara in the Udaipur district of Rajasthan, northwestern India, on May 14.

Sharma told The Epoch Times over the phone that he had witnessed a large line to PHC, but only one nurse vaccinated everyone. According to witnesses, she was fainted at least three times that day.

“There was no social distance because the passage to PHC was narrow for the vehicle. There was a lot of traffic and we were in a hurry,” Sharma said, preventing the open ground with space for social distance. He added that it would have been better to set up an inoculation camp.

Kurpuswamy Raman, director of the charity READ, which operates in 68 villages in the southernmost Erode district of Tamil Nadu, said the second wave caused fear and panic.

Raman is pleased with the newly elected state government Giving 4000 rupees To all families with a distribution card to mitigate the loss of income during a pandemic. He said the family would already receive 2000 rupees in cash this month and the rest next month. This adds to the free food given to people below the poverty line.

Raman said people are afraid of pandemics and vaccinations and need awareness campaigns to mitigate panic and rumors. “They are afraid of vaccination. They don’t believe it because one of the movie actors, Vivek, died the day after he was vaccinated. So there are rumors that he was vaccinated. Yes, that’s why he died, “he said.

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