India has been witnessing a huge surge of covid cases since the middle of March 2021 with extremely large amount of horrifying numbers of tragic deaths. The second wave hit India in the middle of March 2021and reached its peak during the second week of April. As of April 30 India recorded a number of more than 400,000 cases every day. There were shortage of beds in the hospitals, lack of oxygen supply and overall inadequate health infrastructure to deal with the deadly second wave. As a result of which many people lost their lives without receiving proper treatment or no treatment at all. The worst affected states were Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal, Kerala and Delhi. Some regions were reported to have placed patients in the floors of the hospitals and also outside the hospitals in the open where they were treated. Some patients were also kept inside vehicles that carried them to the hospitals but due to the shortage of beds they couldn’t be admitted. These terrible times revealed that the second wave was much more dangerous than the first one and India was not at all prepared to tackle the situation. Despite the rapid rising number of cases there were protests, mass political as well as social gatherings and also election in some states. Unfortunately during these times hardly anyone remembered or maintained the basic covid protocols. All of these are very much responsible for massive covid surges and increased chances of transmission in the country.
Unavailability of beds, shortage of oxygen supply and the long lasting nightmares
The worst side of the second wave was accompanied by lack of hospital beds, shortage or almost no supply of sufficient oxygen, overcrowded cremation grounds and lots more. Many places including the national capital witnessed the wretched conditions. While some seriously ill covid patients needed ventilation support others were required to be treated in the ICUs. But even after getting beds fighting against all the odds many patients couldn’t be saved because either they were kept in the ICU without a ventilator or inside an emergency ward without enough oxygen supply due to high demands. In some regions the patients had to wait outside the hospitals for 2-3 days before getting admitted. The Director General of Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) Balram Bhargava opined that shortness of breath among covid patients emerged as a major concern doubling the requirement for oxygen during the second wave. During this rapid covid surge India produced more than 7000 metric tonnes of liquid oxygen per day which was sufficient to meet the requirements of oxygen supply. But unfortunately uneven distribution of oxygen and logistical issues resulted in the extreme shortage of oxygen in some states.
The cremation grounds were also unable to manage the load of the dead bodies of Covid patients. Some states with huge surges were reported to have cremated 5-6 dead bodies in a single pyre. There was also shortage of woods in many states because each funeral pyre needs at least 3-4 quintals of wood. Due to the rising number of deaths of covid patients and protocols followed during the burning were exhausting the woods very fast. As a result of which the states supplying woods to other states were also facing scarcity and difficulty in managing sufficient woods due to the increasing demands. An official from Delhi confirmed that Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh supply woods used for cremation to Delhi. But due to their internal consumption of woods for cremating covid patients they were not able to supply woods to other states. The contractors in the cremation grounds were also reported to have sold woods in high prices.
Undoubtedly this second wave was more terrible and dangerous than the first one. Unfortunately during the first wave there were certain restrictions everywhere and most importantly a nationwide lockdown was also imposed. But considering the present economic situation of the country affected by the first wave this time complete lockdown couldn’t be imposed which led to the failure of maintaining the basic covid protocols.
The Undesirable and Unpredictable death toll
More than 3 lakh people have died due to the second wave of covid by now. At present India has the world’s third largest death count after Brazil and the United States. This was a very pathetic stage of the pandemic where for the first time the country witnessed floating dead bodies suspected to be the bodies of covid patients in the river Ganga. Apart from all the unfortunate deaths this was the most undesirable and shocking. This time not only the elderly but also the young population was not spared from death. The country needs more planning and strict restrictions at present to deal with the ongoing second wave. According to experts there are possibilities of more waves to come. The effects of this unprecedented second wave should be considered as a warning for everyone. The general public should be responsible for maintaining the basic covid protocols and prioritize safety of health over anything else. Apart from government regulations and restrictions to combat covid self awareness and consciousness of the general population are extremely important.