Lok Samiti rushes to provide emergency COVID relief in Varanasi

AID brings you an update on COVID relief measures from Nandlal Master and Lok Samiti, based in Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh. In order to connect marginalised communities of the society to the mainstream, Lok Samiti has been working in more than 60 Panchayats of Araziline and Sewapuri blocks of Varanasi district for the last twenty-five years.

With the second wave of the pandemic, the situation is quite grim in and around Varanasi (we have also heard this from other partners in Uttar Pradesh). The number of COVID positive cases is rapidly increasing, including from villages around Varanasi. The Panchayat elections were the most probable spreader events. As of May 1, Nandlal ji himself and several others from his team had COVID.

Distribution of masks by volunteers of Lok Samiti in Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh. (May 2021)

Schools and businesses are closed with the surge. The rate of testing is low as the existing facilities are unable to cope. RT-PCR tests at the government hospitals are taking about 5 days to get back with results. There is a massive shortage of hospital beds, and on top of that, the private hospitals are charging Rs. 25,000-40,000 ($350-550) per day.

The poor are left to go nowhere for medical advice, but to quacks. The level of vaccination is also quite low in the villages of the two blocks (Sevapuri and Arajiline) where Lok Samiti works. The reasons are attributed to misconceptions about vaccination and to difficulties in using the online (app-based) registration method.

One piece of good news is that the District Magistrate of Varanasi has distributed essential medicine kits containing Azithromycin, doxycycline, paracetamol, zincovit, ivermectin and vitamin C supplements which the Lok Samiti volunteers will be distributing to the affected families.

Moreover, Lok Samiti volunteers have again started making masks at their sewing centers and distributing them to the people. They are also distributing medicine packets, funded by local support. They plan to set up 10 temporary COVID Relief Centers that will cater to about 50 villages in Arajiline and Sewapuri blocks. Each center will have a team of two doctors and five or six assistants.

The logistics and teams for four such centers have been set up. Moreover, they are in the process of working out the logistics for six more of such COVID Relief Centers. All the 10 centers will need to be equipped with basic medicines, sanitizers, oximeters, nebulizers, PPE kits, oxygen cylinders, and so on.

Your donations will help AID support Lok Samiti in carrying out this life-saving COVID relief work over the next several months.


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