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India is experiencing an unprecedented surge in COVID-19 cases.

Cases began to spike in mid-March, with the seven-day average now surpassing 300,000 cases per day. On Wednesday, the nation surpassed 200,000 COVID-19-related deaths.

Even these high numbers don’t fully capture the situation, as experts believe the number of cases and deaths are underreported.

Oxygen shortages, dwindling medical supplies, full hospitals, exhausted health care workers, crematoriums overwhelmed – this is a health care system on the brink of collapse.

Samuel Sajan Bontha is the founder and lead pastor of New Life Baptist Church, a four-year-old congregation in Hyderabad, India.

The congregation has been engaged throughout the pandemic, working to ensure people have access to resources to meet both their physical and spiritual needs.

Bontha described the current situation as “scary and heart-breaking” in an email to Good Faith Media.

“The second wave of COVID-19 hit India so badly,” he said. “The death rate is growing rapidly … due to the multiple mutations in the virus and the variants that are occurring …[it] has become difficult to treat the patients.”

B.1.617 is now the dominant strain of COVID-19 in India, according to a BBC report – a “double mutant” that appears to be more virulent, though experts feel current vaccines will still be effective against this strain.

Surges tend to produce more variants, so experts have advocated for lockdowns and other social distancing measures to limit the virus’ ability to mutate further.

Such measures were implemented in March 2020 to curb a surge in cases, and the possibility of another national lockdown is currently under consideration, with implementation likely to be enacted based on the percentage of positive cases in a given region.

Public health experts also emphasized the need for increased vaccinations since only 2% of the population is fully vaccinated and only 10% have received a first dose.

Bontha suggested a number of factors have contributed to the surge:

  1. High population density.
  2. Lack of cleanliness and poor hygiene, particularly among those living below the poverty line.
  3. Economic inequality, resulting in unequal access to quality medical care and treatment.
  4. Lack of self-discipline, irresponsible behavior and carelessness toward COVID-19 rules and regulations.
  5. Government mismanagement, resulting in a failure to enact the necessary measures to avoid a second wave.

“They failed to safeguard the lives of the people by providing timely health care in the hospitals from this deadly virus,” he said. “The political leaders and the parties are too busy with their campaigns and political agendas, criticizing and blaming each other for the situation and not coming together collectively to control the situation and to fight against this deadly virus.”

“The government failed to produce and distribute the mass production of medicines and vaccine to the people in the country,” Bontha said. “No proper guidelines and awareness information was given to the people about the usage of the vaccination. The government failed to impose strict rules and timely lockdown in the country.”

“Many pastors died in this second wave and their families are left alone. The situation that we are facing today cannot be explained by words,” he said. “Please, kindly, uphold us and our nation in your prayers.”

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