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DC area families show concern for loved ones in India amid recent COVID surge

In the last 24 hours, Indian officials say roughly 3,500 of the country's citizens have died from the coronavirus.

MONTGOMERY COUNTY, Md. — As coronavirus cases continue to surge in India, local families with ties to the country are doing all they can to help from abroad.

In the last 24 hours, India’s health ministry has reported roughly 3,500 coronavirus deaths. The country is currently experiencing a shortage of oxygen to supplement COVID patients in need.

India’s COVID surge has become so bad, that The White House announced Friday that it would restrict travel from the country starting May 4.

There are many families in the D.C. region who have relatives and friends living in India.

Montgomery County resident Beneeta Kaur says she has at least 20 loved ones in India who have fell ill from the coronavirus recently.

She said her mother’s 92-year-old uncle also just passed away. Kaur said he lived in an intergenerational household with other family members that also have COVID.

“While they're dealing with the fact that their father, grandfather passed away,” she said. “They had to call around to crematoriums to find a crematorium, [they] had to hire an ambulance to drive his body to the crematorium only to find out that the crematorium was packed and could not take his body. They had to turn the ambulance around, drop off his body back at their house and then they continued to keep getting sick.”

Kaur said she is frustrated at what has happened in India. She said a few months ago, the country’s leaders told citizens the virus’ threat was over only to see it rapidly reemerge in the Spring.

“The fact that people are dying, not getting vaccinated, not being admitted into hospitals, shows that you, in fact, did not beat COVID,” Kaur said.

President Joe Biden recently spoke with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi about the crisis in India. Biden pledged to provide the country assistance. So far, the United States has already moved to send therapeutics and other needed supplies there.

However, Kaur said she believes more can be done. She said she would like to see the United States send India more vaccines.

“It is a little mind-boggling where half my newsfeed are people who are being vaccinated and the other half are people who are frantically searching for a hospital bed for oxygen,” she said.

Kaur also worked to support the people of India too. She is a part-time Twitch streamer. So, she decided to raise money on the streaming platform Sunday to buy oxygen concentrators for people in the country.

Prior to the event, Kaur said she hoped the effort would raise at least $2,500 dollars. She said it ultimately raised more than $17,000.

If you missed Kaur's fundraiser, she says there is still another way to help. 

Kaur says the Guru Nanak Foundation of America, a gurdwara based in Silver Spring, is collecting money for aid for India. You can learn more information about that by clicking here.

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