An uncomfortable truth about the potency of the Covid-19 virus has been shown by the impact it has had across India over the past few months.
The devastation that this virus has wrought over the country, whose government has been evidently ill-prepared, is insurmountable. The fallout from this situation is now being felt around the world with family members and friends regularly receiving news of loved ones falling ill, and in many cases, losing their lives. A lack of official support and equipment from the government has led to troubling scenes of mile-long queues where citizens wait to fill oxygen canisters, alarming amounts of people lying in the streets struggling to breathe, and a multitude of open air cremations to dispose of the dead.
One such individual that has been touched by the events in India is Rafique Patel, senior partner and solicitor at Bond Adams. On 6th May Rafique got the phone call that nobody wants to get. “They were in a town called Bharuch,” he explained. “It was my father’s sister, her husband, my two cousin-brothers, who are their two adult sons. They all lived in the same house. My cousin-brothers were married and had children as well.” Tragically, all four of these family members had passed away after contracting the Indian covid-19 variant.
As of today, India has recorded 4,529 deaths in the past 24 hours, and new cases rose by 267,334. Meanwhile, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s approval rating has fallen to a new low according to a recent survey.
“Given the variant and how dangerous this disease is, if one person gets it, given the infrastructure in India, the rest of the family members have to help. There isn’t an ambulance that’s going to come and take that person away. So the other family members helped, they all caught it and sadly they all passed away.”
Rafique’s aunt and uncle were only in their early 60’s when they succumbed to the virus. As for his cousins one was only in their late 30’s and one their early 40’s. Of course, if this virus only affected a certain portion of people, it would be far easier to navigate helping others whilst simultaneously preventing the spread of the disease. This is why the indiscriminate nature of coronavirus is incredibly troubling.
There are difficulties when dealing with this virus at the best of times. In countries such as the UK, the national health service was pushed well beyond its limits and death figures were through the roof. At one point, the UK had the highest death rate in the world. If you then considered how much worse it could have been if the country had the same level of infrastructure to deal with the pandemic as India has. “The infrastructure just isn’t there, even to assist people getting into the hospitals,” said Rafique. “I’d heard of one story where a close family member had been taken to the hospital. There was an oxygen cylinder available but for the first 45 minutes, the person didn’t know how to link them up because there was no staff. That could have been fatal.”
Concerns are not only over the physical effects of covid-19 but also over the damage that a large-scale pandemic has on our mental health too, especially on the young. “There are a lot of children now that have been orphaned,” said Rafique. “This is sadly the theme now across India and it’s such a harrowing story that I didn’t want to stay quiet about. When you see the mental impact that this has on people, we should all then make sure that when we see someone who is not complying with official guidelines and rules, we don’t turn a blind eye. We should be making people comply. Education in India, in Pakistan, in Bangladesh, In the UK—is the major thing that we need to get across. The message we need to get to people is to comply and do not take this for granted. Just because we’ve had two injections of vaccines doesn’t mean that we’re no longer vulnerable. So education and good mental health has to be spread across the world.”
Our deepest condolences go out to everyone affected by the Covid-19 Indian variant.
By Sam Ellison