COVID-19 in Delhi: Citizens take to social media to seek help amid overwhelmed healthcare systems

The spread of coronavirus in Delhi is still showing no signs of abating, and the resultant distress is visible across social media platforms

FP Staff May 04, 2021 12:57:26 IST
COVID-19 in Delhi: Citizens take to social media to seek help amid overwhelmed healthcare systems

Representational image. AP

For many people in Delhi, social media has emerged as a glimmer of hope amid the relentless COVID-19 crisis. With hospitals struggling to maintain enough medical supplies and political leaders engaging in a blame game, several people have resorted to sending out SOS calls on social media.

The spread of Coronavirus in Delhi is still showing no signs of abating, and the resultant distress is visible across social media platforms. On Monday, the National Capital logged a record 448 COVID-19 deaths in a day and 18,043 cases.

This was the third day on the trot that the Capital recorded over 400 fatalities due to the deadly virus.

Citizens step in to lend helping hand

Across Delhi, many individuals as well as hospitals have sent desperate calls for help on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. Most people putting out posts have been seeking beds, oxygen and convalescent plasma.

Several citizens, political leaders and other prominent people have also responded to these calls and offered assistance. These include Indian Youth Congress leader Srinivas BV, Aam Aadmi Party MLA Dilip Pandey and actor Bhumi Pednekar, among others. Srinivas presently heads a team of 1,000 people, including 100 in Delhi, as part of his efforts to provide assistance to COVID-19 patients, as noted by The New York Times.

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Last week, Srinivas was also at the centre of a controversy when the New Zealand high commission in Delhi reached out to him seeking oxygen. While the high commission later deleted its tweet, Srinivas shared a video of his team supplying oxygen cylinders there. The incident led to a war of words between Congress leader Jairam Ramesh and Minister for External Affairs S Jaishankar.

Apart from political leaders, several individual social media users have been responding to calls for urgent help, and amplifying messages. On 17 April, Noida-based social activist Kiran Verma took to his Twitter handle and Facebook page to tell everyone that he owned "a humble Maruti Suzuki Esteem in good condition and completely sanitised".

"If any person, (willing to #DonateBlood or plasma) is finding it difficult to travel around NCR for blood donation. OR don''t have access to good food, I promise to drop you safe (with a smiling face) at a blood bank or provide food at your doorstep," said Verma, the founder of blood donation initiative 'Simply Blood'.

Similarly, a group of Twitter users has started the handle @YuvaaVolunteers, which is aimed at providing assistance to citizens and amplifying emergency calls for help.

Hospitals in Delhi have also been regularly using social media to seek urgent help. Last month, the Sir Ganga Ram Hospital had sent multiple SOS messages amid a severe shortage of oxygen as the lives of hundreds of patients at the facility hung by a thread.

On 23 April, the hospital reported the death of 25 of its 'sickest' patients as the administration grappled with depleting oxygen supplies. On 27 April, the hospital received 3.5 tonnes of medical oxygen, and said that it was in a better situation than in the preceding days.

The Delhi government has been demanding 976 metric tonnes of oxygen from the Centre against the existing allotted 490 MT quota.

Emergency calls from hospitals have now reduced in Delhi, as noted by an article in Hindustan Times. However, this has also come at the cost of them not being able to offer critical emergency support even if they have beds available for fear of not being able to get the oxygen required to care to a larger pool of patients.

Meanwhile, larger numbers of desperate people continue to seek help on social media platforms, in a sign of a breakdown in the health infrastructure in the National Capital. In the absence of proactive measures to contain the pandemic and coordination between multiple government agencies, it is likely that these platforms will continue to be flooded by urgent requests in the near future.

With inputs from PTI

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