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Mosques used as wards as India's Covid crisis deepens

A Health worker is seen at a makeshift Covid-19 quarantine facility set up in New Delhi, India, on 27 April 2021 [Amarjeet Kumar Singh/Anadolu Agency]
A Health worker is seen at a makeshift Covid-19 quarantine facility set up in New Delhi, India, on 27 April 2021 [Amarjeet Kumar Singh/Anadolu Agency]

As Indian hospitals and medical facilities have become overwhelmed with the recent surge in COVID-19 cases, Muslim organisations and individuals have come forward to help alleviate the growing burden on the country's healthcare system by offering critical patients oxygen supplies and bed space.

India, the second-most affected country by the coronavirus pandemic after the US, currently has over 18.3 million confirmed cases and 204,832 deaths, although some experts believe the figures are undercounted. India's Ministry of Health announced yet another record number of cases and deaths in the last 24 hours, with 379,257 new cases and 3,645 new deaths.

Yesterday, Arab News reported that Muslim groups have begun converting mosques into temporary COVID-19 care facilities, like the Jahangirpura mosque in the western state of Gujurat's Vadodara city.

"The COVID-19 situation in the city is not good and people are not getting beds in hospitals, so we decided to open the facility to provide relief to the people," Irfan Sheikh, trustee of the mosque, was quoted as saying.

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"Within days of opening the facility, all 50 beds were occupied so you can imagine what kind of pressure the hospitals are under." Sheikh said the facility could add 50 more beds if the oxygen supply was dependable.

"We are facing difficulties in oxygen supply and the mosque has opened its space to serve the suffering humanity," he added.

The Darool Uloom mosque in the same city also opened its doors offering 142 beds fitted with oxygen as well as 20 nurses and three doctors on site. "We can make 1,000-bed COVID-19 facilities, but the oxygen supply is a constraint," Ashfaq Malek Tandalja, a member of the mosque's managing committee, told Arab News.

Gujurat the home state of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, is one of the worst affected in the country. It reported close to 1,500 cases and more than 150 deaths on Tuesday. Local authorities announced stricter curfews amid rising cases in the state.

Indian author Arundhati Roy has criticised Modi's handling of the coronavirus crisis and his early "triumph" over coronavirus, describing it as "outright crime against humanity."

"The system hasn't collapsed. The government has failed. Perhaps 'failed' is an inaccurate word, because what we are witnessing is not criminal negligence, but an outright crime against humanity," she wrote in the Guardian.

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