On the evening of March 24, 2020, the Government of India ordered a nationwide lockdown for 21 days. This limited the movement of 1.38 billion people, the entire population of India, as a preventive measure against COVID-19. On April 14, 2020, the nationwide lockdown was extended until May 3. We thought that after the first wave, the worst of the pandemic was over. How wrong we have been!
The month of April 2021 has witnessed the worst health crisis of India since Independence (1947). At the peak of the first wave in September 2020, the number of new contagions rose to around 90,000 per day. On April 23, 2021, at the time of this writing, the number of new contagions per day rose to 314,839; that is an increase of 350%, and the figure is rising each day. A spokesperson for the government stated on April 24 that the peak of this second wave may be reached by mid-May with half a million infections per day. They also added that this wave may subside by June-July 2021.
These figures and projections are appalling and scary, but they don’t tell the full story. They can’t explain what it is like to be in a situation where every day brings you the news of the death of somebody you know, somebody you love, somebody you just talked to a few days ago. Last week four Jesuits from Gujarat province died. On April 20, the Jesuits of the Gujarat province received a health update with the news that 6 more Jesuits were admitted to a hospital; 2 other Jesuits who were admitted were continuing treatment; 9 Jesuits had been discharged but were quarantined in their respective communities; and finally, 5 others continued to be quarantined in their communities without going to a hospital. News about the health of 22 Jesuits! Unprecedented.