India recorded 323,144 new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday, amid a surge that has overloaded its struggling heath system and is causing thousands of deaths per day.
UnitingWorld and the Uniting Church in Australia (UCA) have reached out to our partners in the Church of North India (CNI) based in West Bengal and Punjab. UCA President Dr Deidre Palmer and UnitingWorld National Director Dr Sureka Goringe have written to Bishop Pradeep Kumar Samantaroy to offer prayers and solidarity during the crisis (read full letter).
Our partners are responding to the outbreak at the community level through existing projects, diverting resources to help prevent the spread of disease and aiding vulnerable people impacted by the economic fallout. You can help. Click here to donate online.
Our partners have sent some updates below.
West Bengal this week registered its highest single-day spike of 15,889 cases pushing the tally to 743,950 on Tuesday. The death toll rose to 10,941. The number of active cases currently stands at 88,800.
At the Eastern Himalayas Leadership project we support, project officer Sanjay recently contracted COVID-19 and was hospitalised but is now feeling better.
The Eastern Himalayas Education project has had to close the school and move all activities online. Teachers are working from home, navigating the difficult task of teaching online while also resourcing children who do not have little or no access to internet or devices. They have been communicating via WhatsApp and leaving printed worksheets in safe places for students to collect.
Several staff members of the Durgapur Education and Social Empowerment project have contracted COVID-19 along with family and friends. The project is continuing as normal with added precautions, personal protective equipment and limited interaction.
The number of new COVID-19 cases has passed 7,000 per day in Punjab and a daily curfew from 6pm to 5am has been introduced until 12 May. The state has recorded 339,000 total cases and 8,400 deaths.
Schools have been closed across the area, so girls attending the hostel project in Amritsar have gone home to their villages for at least a month and possibly two.
At the Amritsar Social Empowerment and Education project, schools have closed again so study centers will continue in each village and the team are doing what they can to support people remotely. UnitingWorld Project Manager Dan Maddingham has been in contact with Project Coordinator Om Prakash (OP) this week.
“There has been a drastic rise in cases every day here in Punjab… in some [rural] villages people have tested positive but the situation seems under control,” said OP.
“The Church is doing well but all religious places are remaining closed until further notice and there is a complete curfew and lockdown on weekends.”
Yesterday the Australian Government announced an aid package for India.
Please stand with the people of India and our partners as they lead and support their communities through this this crisis. Join us in prayer (UCA Assembly National Consultant Rev Dr Apwee Ting has written a prayer for India in English and Indonesian Click here to read) and donate as you are able.
UnitingWorld is continuing to support our partners to divert project funds to the COVID-19 response. Additional donations will be gratefully received to support their work.