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COVID-19 Spreads across India

April 30, 2021

India is facing a dramatic surge in COVID-19 cases that is threatening its health-care system, claiming lives at an alarming rate, and leaving already vulnerable families in crisis, said Ken Kim, director of International Disaster Response for World Renew. 

“Right now, the hospitals have no more beds for the sick; the oxygen and drug supplies needed to treat COVID patients are in short supply; and every five minutes a COVID patient dies,” he said. 

In the midst of this ongoing tragedy, World Renew is responding in 15 communities with cash to use for urgent needs such as food or medicine. Hygiene kits that include essentials like masks and soap to protect people’s health will also be distributed. These are communities where World Renew has had pre-existing relationships through its long-term community development work. 

“The scale of need in a country as large and complex as India is almost unfathomable,” said Ru Waddell, World Renew’s Asia director. 

The focus of World Renew, he said, is to reach people “whose stories you don't hear or see on the news -- the marginalized, the poorest, and those who need a helping hand to bring them and their families through this crisis.”

All over the world, countries have faced the global impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. In many of the world’s poorest communities, these impacts have been especially devastating. Individuals, families, communities, and entire countries that were making great economic strides have now slid back into extreme poverty.

 World Renew has been responding in many of these places, and now it is launching an immediate emergency response in India. 

The spillover effect into neighboring countries like Bangladesh, where World Renew already has programming, is a deep concern; World Renew is monitoring the situation in the region. 

Nearly 390,00 daily new cases of COVID-19 were reported on Apr. 30, 2021, in India, and large numbers of unreported cases are likely. The daily death rate is now over 3,000, with total deaths passing the 200,000 mark. In New Delhi, India’s capital, someone dies from the virus every four minutes. Hospitals are overwhelmed. There is a severe shortage of hospital beds, oxygen, and medical supplies. 

In a desperate attempt to bring the situation under control, many states have announced curfews and lockdowns. Large urban areas, which are home to millions of migrants who come in search of work, are especially hard hit by this wave of infections. 

“Our approach will deliver support across this complex emergency, at the household level through support for livelihoods and food security, at the community level through advocacy and awareness raising, and at the institutional level through support for community health institutions to enable the delivery of safe, effective care at the time it is most needed,” said Waddell.

“Our partners in India have been working through this crisis from the outset -- and at times at the expense of their own health and safety. We have a duty and a calling to support them in their ministry as best we can.”

Although a complete country-wide lockdown has not been announced, the job loss, food insecurity, and economic vulnerability that come with lockdowns are a looming reality for millions of daily wage earners in India. 

“Twenty percent of India’s people live in extreme hunger, and these people are struggling to feed their families and to protect their health during this pandemic,” said Kim.

Without relief measures by the government, a vast migrant “exodus” from these urban areas to their home villages is a reality. Recent restrictions, night curfews, and state lockdowns have only further accentuated migrants’ fears of getting stranded away from home. 

And with such a mass movement of people, COVID-19 will likely spread into small villages that have even fewer resources to cope with high rates of COVID-19 infections.

“There is evidence showing that COVID-19 is spreading quickly in smaller communities in India right now,” said Kim. 

World Renew’s international disaster response team and its community development team in Asia are working alongside local partners to provide much-needed hygiene kits to 15 vulnerable communities in rural northeastern India, as well as financial assistance to families to help meet their immediate needs. 

“This region is poor and extremely vulnerable to hunger and the effects of COVID-19,” said Kim. 

While meeting the needs of these households, World Renew will also be supporting a local health-care facility serving a community of 5,000. 

Gifts to World Renew’s response in India will

  • supply families in 15 communities with hygiene kits that include masks and soap to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
  • provide cash for families to pay for immediate needs like food and medicines.
  • help to support the medical needs of a community of 5,000.

In addition to financial gifts, World Renew field staff and partners have requested prayer in the following ways:

  • Pray for doctors and nurses who are working around the clock to support people who are sick.
  • Pray for the sick who go unattended and for their families, asking that God will be their source of hope and healing.
  • Pray for smaller communities who are not well equipped to deal with the soaring infection rates and the medical needs of critically ill patients.
  • Pray that prevention methods and more vaccines will halt the spread of COVID-19 and that vulnerable communities across India will somehow be spared from this terrible virus.
  • Please pray that the Indian government will make the right decisions to help bring this crisis under control.
  • Please pray that world leaders will extend the support needed to help bring India out of this crisis.
  • Please pray that our partners in India may stay healthy and safe.

Donations to World Renew’s response to the COVID-19 crisis in India can be made online: Canada Donate or US Donate