By Ahmad Adil
NEW DELHI (AA) - With the number of daily coronavirus cases in India hitting record highs, Muslims in several parts of the country have turned mosques and madrassas (Islamic schools) into COVID-19 care facilities to aid patients.
India has been witnessing a staggering surge in infections of more than 300,000 daily since April 22, which has severely strained the country’s health system, leading to massive shortages of hospital beds, oxygen and critical drugs.
But amid the chaos, Muslim organizations are coming forward to help the people struggling with infection in the holy month of Ramadan.
In the Western state of Gujarat, administrators running a Darul Uloom, or Islamic seminary, in the city of Vadodara have created a COVID care facility consisting of ---oxygen fitted beds-- and isolation wards within the campus.
“The cases are rising rapidly and the demand for hospital beds is huge. We decided to open the facility because we want to help people,” its principal, Mufti Arif Abbas, told Anadolu Agency over the phone.
“The facility has been running since last week, and we have been able to provide treatment to a good number of people,” he added.
A portion of a mosque in Vadodara has also been converted into a COVID facility.
“We have hired doctors to run the 50-bed center,” Irfan Sheikh, one of the committee members of the Jahangirpura Mosque, told Anadolu Agency.
He said the center is equipped with oxygen as well.
“The situation around compelled us to take the step,” he added.
In the capital New Delhi, where hospitals are facing an acute shortage of oxygen, many clerics have announced that they are setting up isolation centers for patients
Other than these facilities, Muslim groups in India have also started helpline numbers to provide leads about beds and oxygen supplies. There have been desperate calls on social media about shortages of beds and oxygen across the country.
“We started a relief task force a week ago. A control room in New Delhi with 30 people working is operational around the clock to help the patients,” Musab Qazi, a spokesman of the Students Islamic Organization of India, the students' wing of socio-religious organization Jamaat-e-Islami, told Anadolu Agency.
“Through our task force, we are helping people find beds, oxygen supply and drugs like Remdesvir.”
Meanwhile, the Indian government on Friday said that they have started importing the vital drug Remdesivir to ease out the shortage in the country. The drug is used for treatment of coronavirus infection and is in huge demand across the country.
A statement from the Ministry of Chemical and Fertilizers said that first consignment of 75000 vials of Remdesivir, will reach India today, and they have placed an order for 450,000 vials from one US and Egyptian pharma company.
- Free oxygen for patients
Many individuals and groups have started to provide free oxygen cylinders to patients in various parts of the country.
There have been a number of cases where patients are losing their lives as they fail to get oxygen and beds at hospitals that are coping with a huge influx of patients.
In the worst affected state of Maharashtra, Shahnawaz Shaikh, a resident, has been lauded on social media as his foundation has been at the forefront of providing help to COVID-positive patients.
“We are providing people help by getting hospital beds, oxygen supply as well,” said Shaikh.
He said that while the number of calls was less, now it is over 500 per day.
Community representatives say Muslim groups in the country should open more madrassas and other facilities for needy patients.
“Given the present situation, everyone should immediately come forward. Madrassas, schools and banquet halls run by Muslims should be used in this crisis,” Moulana Umer Ahmed Ilyasi, chief imam of the New Delhi-based All India Imam Organization, told Anadolu Agency.
“We have to fight it together, and at this point of time, the situation is very bad.”
As of Friday, the country’s overall caseload has crossed 18.7 million, while the death toll reached 208,330. Experts have warned of significantly more cases in the coming weeks.