Amid India’s Rising Numbers, Tibetan COVID Cases Also Climb

Tibetan settlement officers are trying to procure medical resources from Indian authorities in their respective states, with some states beginning to impose lockdowns.
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Amid India’s Rising Numbers, Tibetan COVID Cases Also Climb Medical workers staff a COVID-19 testing station in eastern India's Orissa state, April 25, 2021.

The number of COVID-19 infections among Tibetan residents of India continued to climb this week, with five deaths in one community recorded as the country struggles with a second wave of the pandemic that has seen cases surge since March, sources say.

Tibetans living in Dehradun, capital of northern India’s state of Uttarakand, are among those hardest hit, a Tibetan welfare officer named Norbu told RFA on Thursday.

“The cases of COVID-19 infection have increased a lot in our area, and many of those patients are surviving on life-saving ventilators,” Norbu said. “But now we are running out of precious resources like medical oxygen.”

“At the moment we have around 305 COVID-19 patients who come from our Tibetan settlements in Dehradun, and five of them have died,” Norbu said.

In India’s capital city Delhi, 312 Tibetans have tested positive for COVID-19 since the pandemic began in 2020, said Sonam Topgyal, president of the U-Tsang Samyeling Tibetan Settlement in Majnu-ka-tilla in the city’s North Delhi district.

“Of that number, 272 have recovered,” Topgyal said, adding that 45 Tibetans have tested positive in the Samyeling settlement itself, with three Tibetans having died.

“Because of shortages of medical oxygen and oxygen tanks here in Delhi, we are trying to get some of those resources from Dehradun and Paonta,” an industrial town in northern India’s state of Himachal Pradesh, Topgyal said.

“And some of our critical patients are being taken to Chandigarh and Dehradun for treatment,” he said.

Tibetan settlement officers around India are trying to procure medical resources from Indian authorities in their respective states, and some states have begun to impose temporary lockdowns, with Himachal Pradesh announcing a 10-day curfew beginning May 7, sources said.

India has seen 412,262 new cases of infection and 3,980 deaths over the last 24 hours, bringing the total number of reported infections past 21 million and overall deaths to 230,168 since the pandemic began, Reuters reported on May 6.

Hospitals continue to report shortages of beds and oxygen supplies, and the virus is now spreading quickly in the country’s villages and rural areas, with many deaths likely going unreported, sources say.

Estimates of the number of Tibetans living in India after fleeing their Chinese-ruled homeland range from 120,000 to 150,000.

Reported by Lobsang for RFA’s Tibetan Service. Translated by Tenzin Dickyi. Written in English by Richard Finney.


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