Today, another record was established in India: 360,960 new coronavirus infections were recorded. No country has previously reported so many new infections in one day. The situation in the country leads to unrest among Indian people in the Netherlands. They are trying to help their relatives in India remotely.
In the South Asian country, things seemed to go well for a long time. At the end of last year, relatively few new infections were added, but the arrival of a new variant, combined with a large Hindu festival, led to a second wave that is much more deadly than the first.
Busy at crematoria
Apurva Parkhe, an engineer from Amstelveen, was still in India in January. “When I look at the situation in the Netherlands, I am glad that we like things again, but I also feel fear,” he says. “Recently it was the same in India, and look where they are now.”
According to official figures, more than 200,000 inhabitants of the country have died by corona, but experts doubt that figure. They estimate that the actual numbers are 6 to 30 times higher.
Many crematoria can‘t cope with the crowds. Earlier this week, we made this video of improvised cremation locations in the Indian capital Delhi:
The Netherlands is a popular country for Indian students and knowledge migrants. According to the CBS, about 9000 people from India come to our country every year, making them the largest group of non-Western migrants here after Syrians.
One of them is Delna Abraham, who is studying here. Through social media she tries to organize the scarce medical care for family and friends at home. “What makes it so scary is that this new wave has evolved so quickly. There is now a shortage of everything: IC beds, oxygen, medicine and ventilation equipment.”
Jigna Merchant came to Utrecht in 2017 for a job as a food expert. Last week she received a message from a friend in India who needed the defendant tocilizumab for his father. He had contracted corona after a heart surgery.
“ In India, it’s nowhere to get anywhere,” says Jigna. “On the black market, they ask thousands of euros for it. But even if you have that money, it‘s hard to get.”
drug is available in the Netherlands. Jigna wanted to help by buying it and then sending it with someone who travels to India. But when the Netherlands announced on Monday that it stops fleeing to and from India, the student had to stop her attempt. Her Indian friend is now looking for breathing equipment for his father, who is still very sick.
Apurva from Amstelveen is also looking for help via social media. On the Facebook page for Indian people in the Netherlands she placed a call for her 67-year-old father in Delhi. He needs an IC-bed as a matter of urgency.
“ But the reactions I received have not yielded yet,” she says. Some messages turned out to be fake. In response to a reaction, Apurva sent her father to a hospital. But when he got there, there were never any IC-beds available. Her family keeps searching hard, but sees it gloomy.
Indian migrants are critical of the role of government modes in the outbreak of the second corona wave. “Many Indians are angry with the government because they let the Kumbh Mela go on,” says Jigna. That Hindu festival in April attracted millions of pilgrims. It led to thousands of new infections. “Kumbh Mela should have stopped them, along with the regional election campaigns.”
Delna notices that her family is particularly difficult because of the meager information provided by the government. “Prime Minister Modi gave a speech in which he said Indians should help each other as best as possible, in their own way. But he doesn’t say anything about what the government does and where my family can go for help.”
Modi has never given a press conference where journalists can freely ask questions since he took office. Even during the pandemic, he did not deviate from this habit. The student tries to help her family members by searching the right information online from the Netherlands. She calls her parents a lot to reassure them. Besides her studies, it gives a lot of extra stress.
While Indian people abroad seek help for their loved ones at home via social media, help from abroad is getting further started. Through the Red Cross, the Netherlands gives 1 million euros for oxygen, testing, pricks, information and ventilation equipment.
Jigna says any help is welcome. “Because if India does not control corona, it means that the global pandemic is far from over.”