Why do the people in Delhi show themselves so well

New Delhi between fear and hope in the corona crisis

In this gallery: 3 pictures

When the new infections in India soared, the country fell into shock, Ashraf Patel remembers in a phone call with STANDARD: "Nobody could believe what was happening," says the 53-year-old founder of a youth network in the capital New Delhi. "Everyone thought that everything would be fine again after the first wave," says Patel: "But when the hospitals could no longer cope with the onslaught, the tragedy became clear."

The numbers are still rising rapidly on the subcontinent. The Indian authorities report new record values ​​almost every day. On Friday there were more than 414,000 positive cases and almost 4,000 deaths. Almost three quarters of all new infections are registered in ten states (there are a total of 28 states and eight union territories): Maharashtra with the metropolis of Mumbai, Uttar Pradesh - the most populous - and Delhi are at the top. In the latter, the numbers drop a little.

Masks again in front of the face

If, in the meantime, people have adhered to the safety measures only a little or not at all, almost everyone would wear a mask again and keep their distance, says Patel: "It seems we have learned a great lesson."

But wearing a mask is too late for the current situation. In Uttar Pradesh, cemetery administrations report that the space for graves is running out. For example, at a burial site in Agra, the city of the Taj Mahal, the number of registered burials has doubled. There is also a shortage of gravediggers. This increases the cost of burials, as the Times of India reports.

Private help with oxygen

And there is still a shortage of medical oxygen, although the hospitals are slowly being refilled and there is hope that the emergency will end soon. As of Thursday, the New Delhi's government has therefore created the option of ordering oxygen bottles online at home. With an identity card, the positive Covid-19 test result and other documents such as a lung x-ray, applications can be made, according to the city government.

But even before that, people in their neighborhoods had come together to counteract the oxygen shortage. "After the initial paralysis, people thought about how they could get active," reports 53-year-old Patel on the phone: "Young people in particular have set up initiatives." The woman tells of 30-year-old Mohit Raj, who collected oxygen cylinders, refilled them on his own and distributed them to those in need when the city government was not yet coordinated.

Telephoning for a free bed

According to Patel, organizations have basically converted their communication channels online or via Whatsapp into help hotlines, where people are looking for free hospital beds, oxygen bottles, plasma donations or food. Volunteers would hang on the phone for hours calling all the hospitals in the capital to see if there was any free capacity. They then enter these into a database that can be called up as required. "These young people were very inspiring," says the 53-year-old: "They have shown that we have to stick together to survive the crisis."

While such engagement gives hope, says Patel, many people find themselves in a dilemma right now. Namely from when they should go to hospital care. "Nobody wants to take a bed away from someone if someone else needs it more urgently," says the 53-year-old: "But how long can you endure your own condition at home without going to the hospital?" (Bianca Blei, 7.5.2021)