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India: Cyclone Tauktae Aftermath Raises Fear of New COVID-19 Outbreaks

In the aftermath of cyclone Tauktae in the Saurashtra region on the West Coast of India, there is a high risk of new COVID-19 outbreaks emerging in the coming weeks. Following the latest COVID-19 outbreak in India, Project HOPE has been working with local partners to mobilize procurements and shipments of critical medical supplies to hardest hit regions.

Washington, DC, USA (20 May 2021) — In the aftermath of cyclone Tauktae in the Saurashtra region on the West Coast of India, there is a high risk of new COVID-19 outbreaks emerging in the coming weeks. Following the latest COVID-19 outbreak in India, Project HOPE has been working with local partners to mobilize procurements and shipments of critical medical supplies to hardest hit regions. 

Tom Cotter, director of emergency response and preparedness at Project HOPE: 

“Cyclone Tauktea has delivered another blow to India on the same day the country confirmed its highest-ever daily death toll from COVID-19. India has been fighting one of the world’s deadliest COVID-19 outbreaks, and with over 200,000 displaced persons evacuated to shelters, we are concerned about the emergence of new clusters of coronavirus outbreaks in the coming weeks.

“With only 3% of India’s population being fully vaccinated, most, if not all, of those who are now displaced by cyclone Tauktea are exposed to the coronavirus and the B.1.617 variant as they are crammed into temporary relief sites. We are also learning that vaccination drives were halted across the western coastal districts of India due to the storm.

“With electricity lines down, we also worry over the disruption of electricity supply to COVID-19 hospitals and industrial plants generating and bottling medical oxygen.”

In India, Project HOPE is working with local partners and government officials to facilitate rapid in-country procurement and distribution of PPE, oxygen supplies, ICU equipment, ventilators, and other critical items to support the overwhelmed health care system. Project HOPE is also working with local partners to spread awareness about COVID-19 prevention, knowledge about vaccine efficacy, and mental health programming for frontline health care workers. 

Facts & Figures:

  • Tropical Cyclone Tauktae, a storm with wind speeds equivalent to a high-end Category 3 hurricane, made landfall Monday night in Gujarat. 
  • More than 200,000 people in Gujarat have been evacuated from coastal areas. 
  • India has broken records in numbers of new cases and deaths per day since April, with 2,155,392 new cases and 29,051 deaths last week. 
  • Hundreds of COVID-19 patients were shifted from coastal wards in Mumbai to other hospitals farther inland. 
  • In Gujarat, power outages were reported from 5,951 villages, including 52 COVID-19 hospitals and 13 oxygen plants. Water supply systems were damaged in 5,951 villages. In Maharashtra, three COVID-19 care centers were evacuated. 

About Project HOPE
Founded in 1958, Project HOPE is a global health and humanitarian organization operating in more than 25 countries around the world. We work side-by-side with local health systems to save lives and improve health. Our mission is at the epicenter of today’s greatest health challenges, including infectious and chronic diseases, disasters and health crises, maternal, neonatal and child health and the policies that impact how health care is delivered. For more information on Project HOPE and its work around the world, visit www.ProjectHOPE.org and follow us on Twitter @ProjectHOPEOrg.

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