23 May 2021: As COVID-19 batters rural India, people flock to unlicensed clinics
In a village in Uttar Pradesh, a former hospital worker has set up an unlicensed clinic to treat patients experiencing breathing difficulties, fever, etc. The clinic underscores the state of health services available in rural India, which is now seeing a surge in COVID-19 infections. Low testing in rural areas could also be leading to widespread underreporting of COVID-19 cases, experts fear.
Details: Unlicensed clinic treating patients in UP's Parsaul
In UP's Parsaul, about 60 km from New Delhi, a 52-year-old former hospital assistant is running a small unlicensed clinic. According to Reuters, the clinic has been running since 1993. The news agency did not identify the 52-year-old as he feared backlash from authorities. At the clinic, patients lay on cots, some wearing masks, while others covered their faces with cloth, Reuters reported.
Patients: Patients with fever, breathing problems have increased
A villager, Ashok, reached the clinic with a patient experiencing fever. Ashok said nearly 15 people died of COVID-19 nearby in recent days. Another patient experiencing fever, Bubli (30), feared going to a big hospital. "We are scared of COVID-19," her husband told Reuters. The former hospital worker said patients with fever and breathing problems have increased in the last two months.
Rural India: Many clinics run by untrained workers in rural India
The COVID-19 outbreak is raging in rural India—home to two-thirds of the population—where health services are scarce and overstretched. Medical facilities are dilapidated and there is a paucity of healthcare workers. Many clinics are reportedly run by untrained workers. There is also a lack of testing, due to which, experts estimate COVID-19 cases could be five to 10 times higher than official figures.
Outbreak: India reports 2.65 crore cases, nearly 3 lakh deaths
According to the Union Health Ministry, till Sunday morning, India reported a total of 2,65,30,132 COVID-19 cases, including 2,99,266 deaths and 2,34,25,467 recoveries. As many as 2,40,842 new cases and 3,741 fresh fatalities were reported over a single day. Daily coronavirus infections have declined from a high of 4.14 lakh single-day cases earlier in May, which has already proven to be the deadliest month.
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