Cyclone Tauktae is expected to hit India on Monday, accompanied by extremely violent and potentially devastating winds, hampering efforts to combat the devastating Covid-19 epidemic.
At least six people died over the weekend from heavy rains and winds when Tauktae, the biggest storm to hit the West Indies in 30 years, according to media reports, crossed the Arabian Sea with the state of Gujarat in transition.
An “extremely strong cyclone storm” is expected to land on Monday between 20:00 and 23:00 local time (14:30 and 17:30 GMT) accompanied by winds of 155 to 165 km / h with gusts of up to 185 km / h , warned the Indian Meteorological Department.
Tauktae is preparing for a strike as India faces another epidemic wave of great violence that kills more than 4,000 every day. Hospitals are overcrowded, health workers are exhausted, there is a lack of oxygen and medication.
Bombay (west), the capital of the state of Maharashtra, is already flooded. Authorities closed the airport for several hours on Monday and asked residents to remain sheltered after 580 patients from Covid had to be evacuated from three Polish hospitals “to safer places” on Sunday.
– Mass evacuations –
In Gujarat (northwest), more than 100,000 people were evacuated in 17 counties overnight from Sunday to Monday, and all Covid-19 patients treated at hospitals located five kilometers off the coast were also displaced.
Authorities in the region are working to avoid power outages at some 400 hospitals and 41 oxygen plants in 12 coastal districts where the cyclone is expected to hit hardest.
“To ensure that hospitals treating Covid do not face a power outage, 1,383 generators have been installed,” senior local official Pankaj Kumar said.
Thirty-five “green corridors” have also been developed to supply hospitals with Covid oxygen, he added. Health protocols against the virus, such as wearing masks, physical distancing and the use of disinfectants, will be observed in shelters for evacuees, officials said.
The state of Gujarat, which has officially recorded 9,000 virus deaths – according to experts, a toll that is probably underestimated as everywhere else in the country – has also suspended its vaccination campaign for two days. Bombay did it one day.
India, which has a population of 1.3 billion, recorded 4,100 deaths and nearly 280,000 new Covid cases in the past 24 hours on Monday, bringing the total tax from the start of the pandemic to nearly 25 million cases – doubled as of April 1 – from more of 250,000 deaths.
– Lifeguards on war feet –
Thousands of rescuers have been mobilized to deal with the first major tropical storm of the season, and units of the Coast Guard, Navy, Army and Air Force have been put on standby, Interior Minister Amit Shah warned.
Four people died on Saturday from heavy rains and strong winds that hit the state of Karnataka (southwest), the emergency management agency reported.
Two people also died in the tourist state of Goa, local government chief Pramod Sawant said on Sunday.
According to local media, two more people lost their lives and 23 fishermen went missing in the neighboring state of Kerala (south).
In May 2020, also during the Covid-19 pandemic, more than 110 people died during the passage of the powerful cyclone Amphan that devastated eastern India and Bangladesh.
strs-ash-grk-stu / lth / lch