Christians in the UK are being encouraged to pray for “a spirit of generosity, wisdom and discernment for governments” as health experts in India are warning the country’s latest coronavirus wave could get worse.
On Thursday, the southern Asian nation recorded the world’s highest number of covid cases in a single day, with more than 314,000 cases identified in 24 hours.
Speaking to Premier, Ram Gidoomal, Chairman of Christian charity South Asian Concern, described the situation as ‘meltdown’ and said the country’s health system has collapsed.
“People dying are in ambulances because they were picked up too late. In one case, one ambulance was turned away by four hospitals. Four hours later, the person in the ambulance died. Another person who called in the morning, this is a senior judge in Uttar Pradesh, called the ambulance service. By the time they arrived, his wife was dead.
“It is harrowing, there's not enough wood to burn the bodies, which is part of the cremation procedure there. There are queues. Normally, when you come from a Hindu family, you want the body to be burnt and cremated as soon as possible. I cannot put it into words. It is heart-breaking.”
Epidemiologists and health experts blame the surge in cases on a new variant of the virus that spreads quicker as well as understaffed hospitals and an acute shortage of oxygen.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson cancelled a trip to the country next week because of mounting concerns over the virus. On Friday, he said the UK was considering sending drugs and equipment to India.
“We're looking at what we can do to help and support the people of India, possibly with ventilators,” he said. "Thanks to the ventilator challenge, the huge efforts of British manufacturers, we're better able now to deliver ventilators to other countries,” he added.
South Asian Concern oversees hospitals and churches in India. Gidoomal said churches are doing all they can to help.
“There's one hospital we oversee in the state of Uttar Pradesh with our own people there. And they said they had somebody in yesterday running short of oxygen. They had no oxygen left. It is desperate.
“Churches are coming into the road. They really are. I mean, this hospital also has a church, it has a pastoral training school… and they themselves, the director of the hospital, his wife has got covid, his children have tested positive. So, he's left home during this period to go out and do what he can do. He himself is going out putting himself at risk on the front line. They're all going out, delivering what they can.”
When asked how we can best be praying, Gidoomal said: “Pray for this particular hospital in North India, that they will get the oxygen they need.
“I think what we can do is pray for the vaccine programme, that those who ordered the vaccines will somehow have compassion. Countries like the United Kingdom, where we have 60 per cent vaccinated. If the whole world isn't vaccinated…it's still in trouble, so let's share. Let's be generous. We can pray for a spirit of generosity, and wisdom and discernment for governments that together, they can work because each country on its own cannot do it. And for the Indian government to have much wisdom”.