The death rate has been so high in some parts of India, such as Delhi, that crematoriums are running out of space.
“Jharkhand is one of the states which has the worst health structure, infrastructure, it is among the poorest in the country,” Bishop Mascarenhas said.
"At least I could take my priests, my seminarians. The poor very often must rely on their villages. They are lying in their own homes -- even if they come to the hospital, there is no place for them,” he said. “And if those who get into the hospital, there is no oxygen.”
The bishop said that although he has directly cared for those who are sick, he has not been afraid.
“I keep telling my seminarians ... we were ordained to serve and if that service can be like the Lord’s service then there is nothing like it,” he said.
More than 500 miles away in Hyderabad, Fr. Noel Maddhichetty has also been working to help those affected by the pandemic.
Maddhichetty is the director of Bosconet, a Catholic association with 500 centers across 28 states of India.
In the first wave of the pandemic, Bosconet reached 3.28 million people with some sort of support, including hot meals, weekly rations, and health kits to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
But Maddhichetty said that the organization was caught off guard by how quickly the situation deteriorated in this second wave with an acute shortage of oxygen.
"We are not capable of supplying oxygen. We don’t have an oxygen supply chain,” he told EWTN.
The priest said that Bosconet was looking into how it could help prevent the further spread of COVID-19 and what kinds of support it could provide for people who are sick and quarantined at home.
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“Also we are now trying to promote the vaccination … and the Don Bosco centers are trying to give some space for vaccinations centers,” he said.
Less than 2% of India’s population has been fully vaccinated, as of April 28.
“It is really an irony or … a big contradiction that the country that produces the highest number of … facilities for the production of vaccinations is not able to vaccinate its own people,” Maddhichetty said.
Bishops across India have been calling on the government to do more to ensure that medical resources are reaching those in need.
Cardinal George Alencherry, the major archbishop of the Syro-Malabar Catholic Church, made an appeal to the Indian government to declare access to medical oxygen a human right amid worries that the poor who are sick are being left without any options.
“Treat the availability of medical oxygen as a basic human right and take all necessary measures immediately to make it available to the people who are struggling hard to hang on to their lives in hospitals and healthcare centers,” he said April 25, according to UCA News.