Chennai, India – Rajendran Dilip is eagerly awaiting outside the Chennai state hospital with 500 beds treating COVID-19 critically ill patients in a commercial city in the city where his 53-year-old father Rajendran was brought in an ambulance a few hours ago.
Rajendran’s oxygen levels began to decline sharply two days after the COVID test. This came after he took his first drug AstraZeneca late last month.
“We tried several hospitals, both public and private, but there were no beds. Finally, as his breath began to change, we had no choice but to call 108, “Dilip, 24, told Al Jazeera, referring to the emergency response number for medical, fire and police services in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu.
“She arrived in less than 10 minutes, and my dad’s breath, which was about 93, was changed to 99 when we got to the hospital,” the 24-year-old IT worker said.
But not all at the hospital were as privileged as Dilip’s father.
One man, who did not want to be named, said he brought his mother-in-law, who was in her 70s and had severe symptoms of COVID-19, and found that there were no beds.
One cleaning worker at the hospital said the virus was a “silent killer” and saw 20 people die Friday, the day the newly elected government officials announced their resignation two weeks from the next day.
“How can we accommodate 400 people when there are 40 beds (available)? We need hundreds more hospitals, and even that may not be enough, ”said the nurse in the hospital’s” operating room “.
Tamil Nadu reported 26,465 new cases of coronavirus last Friday, the largest since then since the outbreak began last year.
For the next two days, reports of oxygen shortages and hospital beds across the region began to decline as cases rose by nearly 30,000 a day.
Things have not been so different in neighboring Kerala, which has announced the end of the 10-day deadline from Saturday. One day later, about 36,000 people in the state were tested.
On Monday, Tamil Nadu received 28,978 new cases while Kerala recorded 27,487.
Strong health systems
The two southernmost states of India, with a population of about 110 million – 35 million in Kerala and 75 million in Tamil Nadu – are often cited as examples of their public and private medicine.
It was in Kerala where India’s first case of coronavirus was diagnosed on January 31 last year. But the government was able to control the spread of the virus, and it gained worldwide popularity.
Much of the government’s success is due to its political leaders, a coalition of communist parties that resumed its second term on May 2, striking a coalition led by Indian National Congress and Prime Minister Narendra Modi of the Hindu Bharatiya Party of Janata (BJP).
Kerala Health Minister KK Shailaja, a former school teacher who had previously been face-to-face with COVID-19, won a landslide victory in the election campaign.
The number of doctors in Kerala is 25 per 10,000 people, more than in Canada at 24.43. In Tamil Nadu, it is 16: 10,000, which is in the top 10: 10,000 promoted by the World Health Organization.
Both countries began launching emergency equipment early last year, anticipating spikes and trophies from the COVID-19 virus. Medical oxygen production was increased and medical potential was increased.
Their governments have also begun screening coronavirus patients into three categories – mild, moderate, and severe – to receive treatment, which results in fewer people living with the virus than in the rest of the country.
By the end of March, the death toll in Kerala (CFR), which is a coronavirus mortality rate, rose by 0.32%, while in Tamil Nadu it was 0.52.
Experts however say that CFR in India may not provide a complete picture of the dead because most people with this disorder are not tested, including fewer tests and more frequent reports of deaths from viruses.
Cases are rising for the second cry
Not surprisingly, Tamil Nadu and Kerala were more productive than other Indian countries that had experienced the plague in the first place.
But since mid-April, about 10 days after all countries went to the polls every five years, the disease has resurfaced.
Former Kerala medical secretary Rajiv Sadanandan, who oversees the government’s response to the coronavirus crisis, criticized “the whole political party for not acting responsibly” during the election. He also said officials expect the increase to increase after the vote.
Sadanandan added that the “extreme danger” of the new strains of the virus “surprised us”, prompting the government to “change the fear button and order it to stop”.
Journalist Binu Aravind, who works for the popular Manorama radio station in Kerala, told Al Jazeera that the process of self-determination that took place during the Nipah eruption in 2016 and the aid groups that volunteered after the 2018 floods supported the state government.
Aravind said there was a lot of speculation among government residents that “the government should take care of” things in the event of an emergency.
With a shortage of oxygen worldwide, the Tamil Nadu government confirmed to the Madras Supreme Court on April 23 that the government has the capacity to produce 400 tons of oxygen compared to its needs, which were 250 tons, and 1,200 stored 1,200 tons of matric, or more than three times.
But two weeks later, the government returned to court, criticizing the Modi government for transferring medical oxygen to other countries at a time when the government’s size had reached 50 tons.
Tamil Nadu Health Secretary Jeganathan Radhakrishnan told Al Jazeera that the government could address the problem as long as there is an agreement from New Delhi. He also said that “the process of globalization has had a profound effect on our emissions as we go abroad”.
Experts say the rise in threats in both states is largely due to the influx of immigrants.
Of the 4 million people leaving Kerala, more than half returned to government during the epidemic, and nearly one million are unemployed, according to government sources.
Tamil Nadu is the most developed country in India, with 50% of the 75 million people living in cities and towns. Kerala is often described as a state without rural and rural divisions, while rural infrastructure is similar to that in urban areas.
Kerala also has the highest number of elderly people in the country, and about a fifth of the over 60 people, who are at risk of contracting COVID-19. Tamil Nadu is third on the list.
Rukmini, a Chennai journalist who follows the Indian approach to coronavirus on her podcast, The Moving Curve, says this makes Tamil Nadu and Kerala more susceptible to the disease.
Rukmini said those that were already trying to do well and failed should change in the second wave. For example, in the cases of Tamil Nadu and Kerala, Rukmini said “the actual testing of their health systems is possible in terms of the number of deaths”, such as during the first wave.
Ironically, Kerala’s reduction of the virus to one-tenth of the population, about half of the population, left a large number of vulnerable people, according to a serological study published by the Indian Council of Medical Research in December 2020.
Vaccination delay is another problem facing several areas in India, due to false news on television.
The death of a famous Vivek player in Tamil Nadu one day after he drank his first vaccine has sparked rumors of a serious shooting threat, even a hospital that helped him announce he had died of a heart attack.
Thirunavukarasu 28-year-old driver Krishnamurthi said his family decided not to get the vaccine after hearing the news. She said her 90-year-old grandmother “cooks for herself, washes and sometimes works in the fields”.
“Why are you going to kill her with this injection?” He asked.