Australia sends support to India as country struggles to contain massive second outbreak of COVID-19

Emergency rations are distributed to vulnerable communities through our partner, Caritas India. Photo: Caritas India

India is struggling to control a massive surge in COVID-19 cases, with a death toll nearing 200,000, after another 2771 deaths were reported on Tuesday.  

However, fewer than a quarter of all deaths in India are registered, which means that current estimates of the COVID-19 fatality rate fall far short of the true picture.  

Many Indian cities are struggling to manage a chronic shortage of hospital beds, with several cities reporting that they have nearly run out of hospital beds altogether, especially in ICU departments. Places of worship, sports complexes and even railway coaches have been converted into makeshift hospitals in order to keep up with the demand.  

There are also serious shortages of medical equipment, including oxygen and the anti-viral drug, remdesivir, across the country, putting further pressure on the already stretched healthcare system.  

“The populations that we work with in India are some of the most marginalised and vulnerable, who have had limited access to clean water and PPE for each outbreak, and are now among those with the least ability to access timely medical attention,” said Chanthea Nou, Caritas Australia’s Program Coordinator for Cambodia and India.  

“It’s vital that we respond quickly to ensure that our program participants are supported through this second wave of COVID-19, and that they receive the support they need to rebuild their lives afterwards as well.”   

The steep increase in cases is related to what is believed to be a new "double mutant" variant of the coronavirus which transmits faster. 

In a press conference on Tuesday, Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, announced a halt to all incoming flights from India until May 15 

The Australian Government will also send 500 ventilators, 1 million surgical masks, 500,000 P2 masks, 100,000 surgical gowns, 100,000 pairs of goggles, 100,000 pairs of gloves, 20,000 face shields and 100 oxygen concentrators, as part of an initial package to support India in this crisis. 

We work with our partner, Caritas India, to provide support to India’s most marginalised and vulnerable communities. We are accepting donations to help support vulnerable communities in Asia through ourAsia Emergency Appeal.