The spread of a new Coronavirus mutation has led to a dramatic increase in the number of new infections in India over the past few days. In no other country in the world are so many people being infected with the virus.
“The news reaching us from India is frightening. People are dying in front of hospitals because there is no capacity. There is a shortage of oxygen, intensive care beds, and medical supplies. We are doing everything we can to help right now,” said Cordula Wasser, Head of the Asia Department of Malteser International, the Order of Malta’s worldwide relief agency.
With the assistance of the Indian organisation Unnati, Malteser International is distributing medical masks and hygiene items to health workers and teachers in the north-western state of Rajasthan. Nurses have been instructed to inform people about the ways the virus is spread and how vaccinations work against it. “Scepticism about vaccination is very high among the Indian population. It is vital to overcome people’s fear of the vaccines,” said Wasser.
The economic impact of the pandemic is hitting the rural population in the Thar Desert, one of the poorest regions in India, particularly hard. “People have lost their sources of income during the past year due to curfews. We are distributing goats and seeds to around 1,000 families with the help of our local partner organisation to support them,” said Wasser. The project is financed by the German Federal Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development.
Malteser International has been supporting the people in the Thar Desert since 2010. The projects cover food security, improving access to water and sanitary facilities and acute emergency aid.