The second wave of COVID-19 has quite evidently been far intimidating and ruthless with the infections spreading extensively and a major collapse in the country’s healthcare infrastructure. Battling the unprecedented second wave has been increasingly challenging for the patients and their families.
At present, India has surpassed 20 million COVID cases with a death toll of over 3 lakh out of which over 1.4 lakh death cases have been reported during the past 7 weeks, after the month of March. Although there has been a gradual decline in the number of cases yet no amount of consolation can possibly erase the scar of those who lost their lives to the pandemic due to the country’s healthcare negligence. As a memorial and a token of acknowledgement and reverence, an Instagram page called @2ndwavememorial aims to bring to light the lives lost due to country’s limited healthcare provisions.
Dr. Hemanga Dutta, an alumni of JNU and MIT Boston, hailing from Assam, passed away due to lack of oxygen at a super speciality hospital in Jaipur, Rajasthan where he worked as an associate professor at the Central University of Rajasthan.
A 32 year old Shivagami from Tumakuru, Karnataka had been working as a waste picker since childhood. She lived with her husband in a small community of 85 families. On April 18th 2021, she discerned mild symptoms for Covid and immediately got tested but didn’t receive the results until after 3 days. After several failed attempts to find a hospital bed, she was finally admitted to Sridevi Medical Hospital where her treatment went on for 8 days before shifting her to the general ward. She was finally discharged after 4 days. Unfortunately, on May 4th, owing to the difficulty in breathing, she was put on a ventilator but succumbed to death. The hospital charges that amounted to almost rupees 2 lakh were waived at her husband’s request.
Syed Sajjad Mehdi Husaini, an Urdu scholar and poet from Delhi battled for 9 days before he passed away. He could not be tested on time and his family had to struggle for days before he was finally provided oxygen and medicines. His family blames institutional failure to be one of the major reasons to have lost him. Despite his strong reach and connections, he could not be assisted to find a ventilator and an ICU in the national capital of the country.
Murugan, a 40 year old man from Bangalore who used to work as a a labourer in an incense factory died as the hospital he was admitted to ran out of oxygen, leaving behind four children and a widowed wife. Murugan had started to cough severely when he was taken to a hospital and diagnosed that his lungs were infected with a sharp drop in the pulse and oxygen level. Since the hospital was not equipped with enough oxygen, his family had frantically been searching for one with enough facilities. In due time, the next hospital he got admitted to, ran out of oxygen as well which eventually led to his death. His family wasn’t permitted to bid him goodbye as the body had to be cremated immediately. His little daughter Ashmitha expresses her grief while sharing a memory of him as to how the aroma of her father still lingers even after they lost him.
In Kolkata, a 43 year old Dipankar Guha succumbed to death as he was unable to find a hospital bed. Guha worked to improve the livelihoods of the underprivileged. His friend conveys his misery while sharing fond memories of how helpful he was but is dejected because the system failed him.
Vaman Digha, a 35 year old belonging to the Adivasi community in a village in Palghar district, Maharashtra, passed away as his family was incapable to arrange oxygen, beds and medicines for him promptly. They had no access to social media or the internet to ask for help. Digha’s brother-in-law expressed his infuriation at the incompetence of the hospital to provide a proper bed or oxygen which if provided, could have saved a life.
25 year old, Dr. Maha Basheer of Mangalore, was 5 months pregnant when she had to be put on ventilator support. She was denied vaccination due to the failure of MOHFW to update its guidelines regarding vaccination of pregnant women despite several countries having approved of the same.
These heart wrenching stories are testaments that the negligence of the state towards its citizens is far more lethal than the virus.
By bringing together the lives lost due to heedlessness on the system’s part, the page highlights the government’s absolute irresponsibility to provide for its citizens at a time when they need it the most.
Barira Ali is a student of English Literature at Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi and she hails from Ranchi, Jharkhand.