India: Heatwave will record more deaths than coronavirus – Health experts

by Maruf Adedeji

Health experts have warned that the ravaging heatwave in India could kill more than coronavirus.

While disclosing this on Thursday May 28, 2020, the health experts revealed that at least 3,500 people had been killed by the heat since 2015.

The situation is estimated to cause more fatalities should the coronavirus lockdown continue to be in force.

In the wake of COVID-19 this year, people in India were threatened by an unusual heatwave caused by the powerful cyclone Amphan storm in the eastern part of the country.

In the Northern India, the temperature of 50°C exposed the city of Churu in Rajasthan to a severe heatwave this week while New Dehli also witnessed the hottest day of 47°C in May in the last 18 years.

In response to the heat-induced problems in the country, the Director of the Indian Institute of Public Health Gandhinagar, Dr Dileep Mavalankar, said, “India has not been measuring all causes of mortalities, so there is no data for the severe heatwave.”

Statistics also show only five percent of Indians have air conditioning. Indian experts have therefore cautioned that when people are on lockdown as a measure to contain the coronavirus spread, they are more endangered to suffer from heatstroke coupled with the collateral damage due to COVID-19.

The severe heat-induced experience could result in a “humanitarian crisis” amidst an estimated 40 million migrant labourers stranded in the country due to the lockdown since 25 March.

However, the Indian government has embarked on repatriation of the migrants by running thousands of trains and buses.

In the wake of the recent unusual heatwave and lack of water on board, at least 6 migrants have died on transport so far.

As it stands, India’s health system is already over stretched with the COVID-19.

The implication is that heatstroke patient will be unable to get urgent treatment.

“The heat should begin to subside by Friday,” the Indian Meteorological Department forecast.

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