The Big StoryMay 17, 2021
00:15:5514.62 MB

Lack of Tests & Ventilators: How Rural India is Facing Covid Surge

Covid infections are now spreading fast into India's rural areas where 65 percent of the country's population live. And India's rivers are witness to the kind of devastation the infection is bringing to India's hinterland.

A mass pile of shallow graves were found along river banks in Uttar Pradesh's Unnao district. Dead bodies have been floating up in rivers flowing through Bihar’s Buxar district and Ballia and Ghazipur districts in Uttar Pradesh over a reported shortage of firewood as the number of Covid-related deaths are on the rise.

In fact, Hindi daily Dainik Bhaskar has reported that over 2,000 bodies were found floating or buried along Ganga in UP in a 1,140 km stretch. Even though officials in some districts have claimed the dead bodies don’t belong to locals, this is certainly an indication of Covid is ravaging the countryside.

Although the number of covid cases maybe showing a decline in some of the worst-affected cities, numbers from rural areas are indicating a spike in cases.

In India's top hot spot, Maharashtra, for instance, where the situation appears to be stabilising in cities like Mumbai, reports say that at least 32% of the state’s daily cases are now coming from the rural or the peri-urban pockets — from districts like Akola which has over 6,000 positive patients, or Washim which has over 4,000 patients or Gondia which reported a death toll of 631 patients as of 16 May.

If you look elsewhere at other high-risk states like Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Bihar and Rajasthan — the rural districts of all these states are also grappling with high infection and mortality rates currently.

There there are several factors contributing to the worsening situation. Reluctance over testing, lack of awareness of Covid norms, migration from urban areas to rural villages, insufficient and inaccessible healthcare facilities — a dangerous combination of all these factors is leading upto an emerging covid crisis in the rural areas now.

And to understand the magnitude of this crisis, for this episode, we got in touch with three Covid volunteers who explain how the situation is on ground and the delicate state of healthcare in some of India's rural areas. Tune in!

If you wish to help rural India combat the Covid surge, please consider supporting Covid relief work. Click here to donate to the Manjhi Foundation.

Host and Producer: Shorbori Purkayastha
Harshit from UP's Sitapur district,
Somu Anand from Bihar's Saharsa District
Seema Buckshee who's coordinating relief work to rural areas from Mumbai
Editor: Shelly Walia


Music: Big Bang Fuzz

Listen to The Big Story podcast on:

Google Podcasts: