India is experiencing a devastating second wave of COVID-19 throughout the country. According to reports, positive cases of COVID-19 have skyrocketed to 17 million in total. There are now over 300,000 new infections a day, making India the country with the world’s highest rate of daily COVID-19 cases. According to the local news, cities are facing severe oxygen shortages for critically ill patients. In the capital city of New Delhi, the virus surge has necessitated a city-wide lockdown until May.
Currently, the Indian Red Cross and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent (IFRC) are working around the clock to safeguard residents. More than 46,000 Red Cross workers are providing medical and emotional support for those most at-risk to help alleviate pressure on health care systems amid lockdowns in several of the worst-hit regions, including New Delhi and Mumbai. To meet the most critical need, the Red Cross is providing oxygen for critical patients. Red Cross ambulances are transporting the most vulnerable patients, including migrants, single women, mothers and people with disabilities to medical facilities.
To mitigate families’ risks, the Indian Red Cross is vaccinating people with the COVID-19 vaccines in urban and rural areas. Volunteers are handing out masks, soap and hygiene kits in villages. To date, they have distributed more than 31 million meals and food rations to more than 276,000 people, including migrants and the elderly. The Red Cross has provided emotional support to more than 770,000 people to cope with ongoing trauma. Red Crossers continue to actively share information about the spread of COVID-19 and demonstrate proper hygiene practices.
“This second wave of COVID-19 is sweeping across India and severely affecting urban and rural communities. As the need continues to rise, the Red Cross is committed to alleviating pain and suffering in the country by providing lifesaving support through ambulances, oxygen, vaccination support and more.” said Emily Osment, global spokesperson for the American Red Cross.
How is the American Red Cross addressing COVID-19 around the globe?
Overseas, Red Cross and Red Crescent volunteers are helping communities cope with the virus—from Red Cross doctors staffing quarantine facilities in Asia to Red Crescent volunteers increasing sanitation in Bangladesh’s refugee camps. For its part, the American Red Cross has deployed nine disaster responders in a remote capacity and contributed more than $11 million to the global fight against the coronavirus. The funds can be used for health and hygiene promotion, case detection, surveillance and contact tracing, among other activities. The disaster responders have specialties in mental health, communications, information management, assessment, planning and other essential skills. In addition, American Red Cross delegations around the globe are pivoting existing programs to address the coronavirus outbreak.
While the situation in India is devastating, the American Red Cross does not ship blood products outside the U.S. without a specific request from the U. S. State Department for U.S. citizens overseas, from the United Nations, or unless we have request from the affected Red Cross or Red Crescent society abroad. At this time, the American Red Cross is not shipping blood products, such as convalescent plasma, to India.