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'Tip of the iceberg': Methodist Minister says many Covid deaths are going unreported in India

The number of reported dead in India's coronavirus crisis is just the "tip of the iceberg" according to a Methodist Minister who works with some of the country's poorest communities.

On Monday, India recorded more than 352,000 new cases, but the Reverend Inderjit Bhogal told Premier that in reality that figure is much higher.

He says many children and the most vulnerable are dying because they are not registered by the authorities: "We are seeing the tip of the iceberg. Because many of those who live in very remote and isolated communities are not really on the general radar. It's not only adults now, but children are dying, and that's alarming.  What poverty means over there is that you have nothing. And you don't have a voice even. And maybe worst of all, you aren't registered, you're not on anyone's radar." 

Reverend Bhogal, who is working closely with schools, hospitals and community projects, particularly in the Dioceses of Amritsar and Karimnagar, says it's particularly alarming that India is having to pay other countries for oxygen: "That's a matter of deep concern. It's about basic need. The Bible opens with the story of creation, and God breathing life into people. We have to do all we can to make plain air and life the priority. Because everyone needs the basic things. If you don't have air to breathe, you die, and it should be globally, a matter of great concern that in our world with all its riches, which are immense, there are people who don't have air to breathe."

Reverend Bhogal says the crisis highlights inequality in India and says the country needs to value everyone regardless of status and wealth: "It is important for us to actually discover these numbers, not only these numbers, but the names of the people we're talking about. They are human beings, with faces, with families, with stories with hopes, and hurts and aspirations and dreams - every one of them made in the image of God, and therefore sacred, unique and special."

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