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23 Apr 2021

Shaikh Azizur Rahman & Michael Safi, The Guardian

As workers flee India's urban areas, rural doctors prepare for an even more destructive second wave

"Rural doctors braced for ‘devastating’ second wave as India’s workers flee cities", 23 April 2021

As Covid cases spike, countryside physicians say hospital space is scarce while most infections go unreported.

Scenes of migrant workers massing at bus and train stations, fleeing lockdowns in Indian cities for their villages, are ominous to doctors in the country’s hinterlands.

...Even in India’s large cities, the scale of the country’s disastrous second wave of infections is obscured by poor or deliberately misleading data. In its rural areas, home to more than 800 million Indians, the picture is murkier still.

Mortality tolls, too, are thought to capture only a fraction of Covid-19 fatalities in a country where the vast majority in rural areas die at home, unregistered by the state, or have their deaths falsely attributed...

...Helping the virus to spread is a widespread lack of recognition of its dangers, more than a year into the pandemic. Islam said: “Although the virus is wreaking havoc across the country, people in the rural areas are largely unaware of it. There are many villages in the district where as many as 95% people are moving around in public without safety masks.