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Family from India reacts to COVID-19 crisis

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ROCHESTER, Minn. (KTTC) — While Americans are swelling with optimism about the pandemic outlook, a very real situation is happening in India.

“My country is dying,” Priya Verma said.

Priya’s parents, Anil and Pratibha, were both born in India. The Vermas have many family members who still live in India.

The Asian country’s hospital beds are running out as it sets a single-day record, more than 412,000 new COVID-19 cases and 3,980 dead. Also, health officials believe the numbers are vastly undercounted.

As desperation for oxygen and medical supplies grows in India, the Verma family can only sit by and watch.

“I came to America many, many years ago, more than 50 years ago. I am a retired research scientist from 37 years at Mayo Clinic,” Anil Verma said.

The Vermas say it’s been tough being away from their family members in India, but improvements in technology have made it much easier to communicate.

“In my extended family and friends, you know, at least 4 people have died of COVID-19,” Anil said.

He says thankfully none of his family has passed away during this second wave.

“It’s a long travel, you know it’s 3 days journey,” Pratibha said.

With travel restrictions and religious traditions of cremation happening very quickly, many have been unable to say goodbye.

“India is not a system where they can keep the body for long enough, so when they reach there, the person is gone. You can’t see them, because they can’t keep it for three days,” Pratibha said.

This outbreak is largely being blamed on government leniency, allowing massive crowds to gather for Hindu religious festivals and political rallies.
Vaccine shortages also are playing a big role.

“There’s not enough vaccine. I think in India, a higher percentage of people will get vaccinated than here. They don’t have the luxury of saying I don’t want to get vaccinated, you know?” Anil said.

Only 2% of India’s 1.3 billion people are fully vaccinated.

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Kamie Roesler

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