The whole country is under lockdown. At this point, it is being widely suggested that India has already entered the stage-3 of the coronavirus transmission, meaning that the number of cases is expected to rise sharply.

But while we can and should stay inside our houses for as long as it takes, medical professionals simply do not have that luxury. And they are struggling.

A couple of days ago, at the directions of the PM, we all clapped and banged our utensils to support the medical professionals helping to save us during the coronavirus pandemic. Now, while that might have helped, something that I truly doubt, we need to stop with the gimmicks and think about how to protect the people who protect us.

people clapping
Source: Times of India

Because the very next day, the central government issued a notification prohibiting the export of domestically manufactured Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). This also happened just 3 weeks after the WHO issue guidelines telling countries to expect a disruption in the supply of said equipment.

doctors ppe
Source: Sabrang India

Medical professionals have already been struggling with the lack of stockpiling of PPE in the last couple of months.

Keep in mind, the WHO had issued these guidelines as early as the 27th of February.

The current global stockpile of PPE is insufficient, particularly for medical masks and respirators; the supply of gowns and goggles is soon expected to be insufficient also. Surging global demand-driven not only by the number of COVID-19 cases but also by misinformation, panic buying and stockpiling will result in further shortages of PPE globally.

Shortage of proper protection equipment has been one of the reasons for infections among health workers. According to the Times of India, of the 2,629 health workers infected in Italy, 13 have already passed away. Of over 3,300 healthcare workers infected in China by early March, 22 have died.

coronavirus doctor death
Source: NY Post

BTW, India has just one doctor for every 1,457 citizens. So it's already worse than you are thinking.

The demand for PPE and other essentials is expected to have a steep increase as the pandemic continues to infect people. According to the minutes of a meeting held under the aegis of the textile ministry on March 18th, 'there is a shortage of material and the rate of supply is not able to meet the rising demand'.

According to reports, AiMed, an umbrella organization of Indian manufacturers of medical devices had urged the health ministry on Feb 8 to start stocking up masks, protective gear, thermometers etc in view of shortages reported in other countries.

Preventive Wear Manufacturers Association of India (PWMAI) chairman Dr Sanjiv spoke about the frustrations of the Indian companies after being tossed around by bureaucrats and said:

We have written several times to the health ministry from February 12 onwards and met many of them too. You can imagine their sense of urgency when they still haven’t managed to come out with specifications, over a month later. Without specifications, anyone can supply inferior stuff and that could endanger the lives of our health workers. Not putting specifications in the public domain also means that you can order protective gear from anyone whether they meet quality standards or not.

Now, it's natural to get a lot of things wrong during a pandemic like this. But the government simply can't afford to make these mistakes. In fact, among the scientific community, it has been made clear for years that the next pandemic could be coming at any given time.

coronavirus
Source: Newsfeed

Despite this, our government has spent a better part of the last 6 years, spending thousands of crores on statues and thousands more on its PR campaigns.

statues india
Source: Apollo

Mind you, just a day after Modi ji asked the nation to clap from their balconies, his government released a gazetted notification for the new Parliament building. The cost of this project is Rs 20,000 Crores, which coincidentally is the same as Kerala Govt's package to help the economy recover after the crisis.

Is the parliament building really the most important issue the country is facing right now?

indian parliament
Source: The Financial Express

According to Moneycontrol, there are around 1 lakh ventilators in the country. According to medical experts, India needs around 2.1 ventilators per 10,000 patients to battle the COVID-19 crisis alone.

ventilators india
Source: The Economic Times

Meanwhile, studies have shown that patients with ailments like diabetes, heart diseases and hypertension are more likely to succumb to this virus.

Between the age of 20 to 79, our country had 77 million diabetics as of 2019. India also had more than 20% of global deaths from heart diseases. A report published in the Indian Journal of Medical Research stated that hypertension led to 1.63 million deaths in the country in 2016.

These statistics alone should scare all of us. Also, if you think we Indians have some sort of natural immunity against the virus and that's why we have so few cases. Yeah, well, you are wrong. It's because we haven't tested as many people as we should have.

So, it doesn't matter how many times we clap or statues we build or how many god-sized posters the BJP makes for it's PR campaigns, the fact remains that our medical system is already overburdened with the cases we have and the situation is likely to get much worse.