India’s Covid-19 crisis has drawn the world’s attention, with its alarming situation featuring on the first pages of newspapers across the globe this week. On Saturday, India broke its previous record to count more than 3.46 lakh infections — the highest recorded anywhere in the world since the pandemic first began.
The surge in cases has battered its already feeble healthcare system. Thousands of Covid patients have been scrambling to find hospital beds, oxygen cylinders and potentially life saving medication amidst an acute shortage of medical resources in the country. A rerun of the migrant exodus seen last year is being witnessed once again.
As state authorities grapple with an aggressive second wave, here’s how the international media has reported India’s health crisis.
‘As avoidable as it is tragic’: The Washington Post, US
The Washington Post called India’s new wave of Covid-19 “as avoidable as it is tragic”. The sudden wave was caused by India relaxing restrictions too soon, it stated. “Tens of thousands of spectators were allowed to fill stadiums for cricket matches; movie theaters were opened; and the government permitted enormous religious gatherings such as the Kumbh Mela, a festival in which millions of Hindus gathered to bathe in the river Ganges,” it said. “India is not a faraway problem. In pandemic time and distance, every place is nearby.”
‘PM’s overconfidence’: The Guardian, UK
An editorial published in the Guardian stated: “The Indian prime minister’s overconfidence lies behind the country’s disastrous Covid-19 response.” Guardian is of the view that “the Indian prime minister suffers from overconfidence in his own instincts and pooh-poohs expert advice” and “the buck stops with him”.
“He should acknowledge and make amends for mistakes that have caused enormous suffering. He needs to engage with experts on how to uphold restrictions; ensure government delivery matches promises; and drop the sectarian ideology that divides when unity is required. Future historians will judge Mr Modi harshly if he continues with the exceptionalist views that have led to a disastrous public health outcome,” Guardian said.
An analysis of the situation carried in the Guardian also points to how “blindspots in India’s response” to the second wave “serve as a stark warning to other countries”. Author Peter Beaumont writes that the latest wave is “probably a combination of social behaviour, weaknesses in India’s health system and policy decisions.”
‘Crisis deepened by missteps, complacency’: The New York Times, US
The crisis was deepened by missteps and complacency, according to an article published in the New York Times. “Complacency and government missteps have helped turned India from a seeming success story into one of the world’s worst-hit places, experts say. And epidemiologists warn that continuing failure in India would have global implications,” the article read. It further stated that India’s vaccination rollout was “late and riddled with setbacks”.
“What India needs now, epidemiologists and experts say, is concerted and consistent leadership to contain infections and buy time to make vaccinations more widely available and faster,” the NYT article stated.
‘India’s healthcare system is buckling’: BBC, UK
A BBC report stated, “Cases have surged during India’s second wave, driven by a number of factors. Health protocols have been lax, with mask mandates sporadically enforced.” It also attributed the sudden rise in cases to millions attending the Kumbh Mela.
“India’s healthcare system is buckling as a record surge in Covid-19 cases puts pressure on hospital beds and drains oxygen supplies. Families are left pleading for their relatives who are desperately ill, with some patients left untreated for hours,” the report read.
‘Catastrophe could have been avoided’: ABC, Australia
Australia’s ABC blames Covid-19 complacency for India’s current predicament. “Not only is the surge far more aggressive and deadly than the one India endured last year, but there is a much stronger belief that this catastrophe could have, and should have, been easily avoided,” ABC wrote.
“There are three key factors behind what went wrong: government response, public behaviour and variants,” it added.
‘Responsibility lies with a strongman regime’: Time, US
An article published in Time magazine questions how India was caught unprepared when cases started rising this year. “The responsibility lies with a strongman regime that has ignored all caution… It lies with the sycophantic cabinet ministers who praised Modi for successfully dealing with Covid-19 in India even as testing slowed down and allowed people to become more complacent about the virus.”
Referring to the situation in Maharashtra, the article also blamed state ministers who preferred “playing power games to actually governing, and who were caught napping as the virus made a comeback.”
‘Unforgettable mistake of dropping guard’: Global Times, China
China’s Global Times accused India of making an “unforgettable mistake” by dropping its guard following a brief lull in coronavirus cases. “Now, Oxford Economics warned that the brutal coronavirus resurgence in India would raise concerns that Indian economy’s nascent recovery will be derailed,” an article published by the Chinese news outlet read.
“When the resurgence of tens of thousands is formed in a poor and populated country like India, the upward trend is going to develop for a couple of weeks, if not months,” it stated.
‘Doctors advised patients to stay home’: Dawn, Pakistan
Pakistan’s Dawn newspaper has been reporting on how India’s healthcare system has been struggling to keep up with the second wave. “Hospitals across northern and western India, including the capital New Delhi, issued notices to say they have only a few hours of medical oxygen required to keep Covid-19 patients alive,” one such article read.
“More than two-thirds of hospitals had no vacant beds, according to the Delhi government’s online data base and doctors advised patients to stay at home.”
“Coverage by media showed heart wrenching scenes of patients facing difficulty breathing queuing on stretchers outside hospitals, waiting to be treated or let inside hospitals running at full capacity,” it added.