There are seven priests currently hospitalized with COVID-19 from the archdiocese of Ranchi in one of the states in India with some of the poorest medical infrastructure in the country, according to a local bishop.
Bishop Theodore Mascarenhas, an auxiliary bishop of the archdiocese located in Jharkhand state, took each of the priests to the hospital because there were no ambulances available.
He held back tears as he described the dire health situation in his diocese in an interview with Colm Flynn of EWTN News.
“I have seven priests in hospital right now, and those are the lucky ones who found a hospital bed. I have another seven seminarians who are sick, lying in their beds in a house close to the hospital. I took them to a house for the aging because there was no place in the hospital,” Bishop Mascarenhas said.
“I lost a priest, 30 years old, just one year of ordination … five days ago. And it hurts,” the bishop said, recalling that he was with the young priest and “fed him coconut water until the last.”
The neighboring Diocese of Dumka, also in Jharkhand state, lost five priests to COVID-19 in 10 days, according to the bishop.
“But what hurts more is what is happening all around us. There is a shortage of hospital beds. There is a shortage of medicine … People cannot find a place in any hospital in the city, and you can imagine what is the state of the poor. They can’t even think of rushing their sick to the hospitals,” Bishop Mascarenhas said.
Bishop Theodore Mascarenhas (India), fights to hold back the tears during an interview for @EWTN when talking about how #COVID19 has affected his poor parish of Ranchi. My thoughts and prayers are with him, and all the people of India at this devastating time. pic.twitter.com/efuizZYabe
— Colm Flynn (@ColmFlynn1) April 27, 2021
India’s official coronavirus death toll passed 200,000 on April 28 after 3,293 people died of COVID-19 in 24 hours.
The country, which has a population of 1.3 billion people, has recorded more than 300,000 new cases each day for the past week. Many believe that the actual infection and death rates are likely higher than the official statistics show.
Indian media have reported that at least 14 Catholic priests died of COVID-19 in India between April 20 and April 23, and five Catholic priests died in 24 hours in the western state of Gujarat on April 17.
World Health Organization spokesman Tarik Jasarevic has said that higher rates of transmission could be due to a new COVID-19 variant that was discovered in India.
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.
Read more at National Catholic Register