WILLS POINT, TX – A headline in the Los Angeles Times asked the question, “Social distancing during the Coronavirus? Not when a family of six shares one room.” The story introduced readers to some of the obstacles facing India ahead of the potential impact of the Coronavirus and some of the preventative actions being taken by officials to stave off a major crisis.
The question is a particularly good one considering that the country is home to more than 1.3 billion people, 92 million of whom live in one-room slum homes seldom larger than 10’ x 10’. Social distancing simply is not possible for those people. The intensely dense population could become a veritable breeding ground for COVID-19.
BBC News asked a similar question recently in a story entitled, “Will coronavirus lockdown cause food shortages in India?” Work stoppages are already causing impoverished residents to wonder and worry how they will obtain adequate food with the loss of their low-income jobs and interrupted agricultural operations during the country’s prime farming season.
What are we going to do?
That question is on the minds of anyone anywhere in the world who is aware of the COVID-19 Crisis. For individuals, the question is typically asked fearfully. For governments, healthcare systems, and NGOs, the question deals with facts and realities.
It is no surprise that India must make the best preparations possible. That is precisely what they are doing.
Indian Railways, the world’s fourth-largest railway system in the world, has shut down normal operations and is converting 20,000 passenger train cars to mobile hospital rooms specifically to aid COVID-19 cases. The Railway Minister of India asserted that “the railways will offer clean, sanitized and hygienic surroundings for the patients to comfortably recover.”
The railway is accustomed to mobile health care. It has operated a “hospital on wheels” that has served more than a million people over nearly 30 years.
What will we eat?
Even before the cupboards are bare, mothers and fathers ask this question to no one in particular on behalf of their families. As one migrant worker already explained, “We have problems. We have a small child, and we don’t have anything to eat.”
Indian officials have created a $23 billion relief package to provide food for those in need. According to BBC News, India has “a robust food stockpile,” including 60 million tons of food grain. India already operates the world’s largest state-run food distribution program.
This is when NGOs like Gospel for Asia (GFA World) and its partners in South Asia have, with approval of local government authorities, stepped in to assist with distribution of food, masks, and supplies to wherever it is needed. NGOs and FBOs will do whatever they are able to do, whether it is delivering food, medical care, or making room to care for the sick.
These are just a few of the things being done ahead of the impending storm of COVID-19 reaching into the population.
Missions Box News plans to keep our readers aware and up-to-date on how Gospel for Asia and other FBOs are operating in the subcontinent to protect the population from the pandemic.
A web page has been published to update the public on the many needs in Asia, and highlight the various, creative food distribution efforts which are taking place to help the poor in India, Nepal, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, and the surrounding nations.
To read more news on the COVID-19 Crisis on Missions Box, go here.
- Worldometers, Coronavirus India
- BBC News, Coronavirus: total India cases and deaths, real-time map, April 7
- Al Jazeera, India hospital shuts after surge in coronavirus cases among staff
- Al Jazeera, India: Coronavirus lockdown sees exodus from cities
- CNN World, India has closed its railways for the first time in 167 years. Now trains are being turned into hospitals
- Time, A Major Outbreak of Coronavirus Will Test India’s Healthcare, Governance and Social Cohesion to the Limit
- CNN World, Doctors say India must prepare for an ‘onslaught’ as one of Asia’s biggest slums reports first coronavirus death
- Los Angeles Times, Social distancing during the Coronavirus? Not when a family of six shares one room