The spike in infections was unexpected and has led to deadly shortages of oxygen, ambulances and hospital beds. Countries around the world are now taking notice and have pledged to send aid in the form of medical supplies and ventilators, as well as other aid.
I have received many emails from our people in India who speak about how this pandemic is affecting lives and livelihoods. Hospitals are full with sick and dying patients. Family members drive each other to multiple hospitals in the hope of finding a bed. Many emails report first-hand about people they know who have died. In northern India, bodies are being burned in public parks because crematoriums have exceeded their capacity. Elsewhere, officials have suggested that families bury in their backyards relatives who have succumbed to COVID-19.
The following email was received from a Sabbath keeping pastor in the state of Andhra Pradesh: “Brother, we are now under lock down. All our churches are closed. We are not getting any offerings, gifts or tithes from anybody. COVID is rampant, many thousands of cases and deaths are being received every day. There is acute scarcity of vaccine and oxygen. Burials are full and there is no space to bury. There are heaps of dead bodies. The situation is very, very deplorable.”
From a UCG member: “Every day in India cases of COVID-19 are increasing. My mummy’s brother had passed away on Apr. 9 due to COVID and on Apr. 23, my brother’s wife’s father passed away. We are having complete lockdown on Saturdays and Sundays—and on other weekdays only a few shops are open for a few hours. The second wave is infecting many people very fast. People are not getting beds in hospitals, no ventilators, and many people are dying outside the hospital—very frightening. Sometimes I get afraid of seeing the news and the situation people are facing.”
Another email from Bangladesh: “Because of the lockdown my family is also suffering financially. It’s becoming very difficult to maintain family daily supplies and needs. Now we need food for this month and supplies. Pray for us that soon we may do something.”
Some of our members in India have contracted the virus but none have been hospitalized or died. Many of the Sabbath-keeping groups that we work with have had deaths in their congregations. There is much suffering and they have reached out to us for help to buy food for their families.
Frank Reckerman, our elder in Sri Lanka, sent this communication on Sunday about Sri Lanka:
“Resulting from the recent lax controls by the government, the virus had begun spreading at a faster rate here than before. The daily increase of detections is now reaching 2,000 and deaths approaching a dozen a day. These numbers may seem comparatively insignificant, but the outlook is grim. Our country does not have the capacity to handle a worse situation. These numbers could be worse than what is published by the media. New areas are being added to the isolation list daily. Sooner or later most of us will face isolation, if not lockdown.
“In the meantime, food items are sold at high prices—ignoring price controls under a gradually growing shortage. Most affected are our members who are tuk-tuk drivers. The existing ban on public, private, church and community gatherings has been extended to homes as well. The public and private sector are restricting work in person and encouraging work from home. Roads are gradually becoming empty.
“Sadly, we will not be able to congregate for the next two to three weeks at least for Sabbath services. This includes the Feast of Pentecost. I am not too sure if we will be able to host Zoom services from our homes because most of our brethren do not have computer equipment or good Internet facilities. The Sri Lanka brethren are ever willing to congregate, given the opportunity, but that will have to be put on hold for now.”
This week’s Inside United podcast (below) provides the latest information about the situation facing our brethren in these two countries.
For those who would like to donate for relief to our brethren and their families in India and Sri Lanka, we welcome donations to either UCG’s Good Works program at https://www.ucg.org/members/outreach/good-works or to LifeNets at http://lifenets.org.