COVID-19 Situation in India

05 May, 2021

The Hon. J.S. LEE (15:54): I rise today with a heavy heart to speak about the devastating second wave of the coronavirus currently unfolding in India. India, sadly, has become the second country in the world, after the United States, to tally more than 20 million total infections when the government announced 357,000 new cases yesterday, and over 220,000 people have died from the disease thus far. 

The Premier of South Australia, the Hon. Steven Marshall, made a compassionate ministerial statement in parliament yesterday. Since learning about the terrible human tragedy in India, we have reached out to the Indian community in South Australia. On behalf of the South Australian government, we express our sympathy to everyone in India and community members in South Australia to let them know that we are thinking of them and their families and that we stand in solidarity with the Indian community and will continue to support the Indian community during this difficult, sad and challenging time. 

Watching the COVID crisis in India unfolding and seeing images of cremation, overcrowded hospitals, overwhelmed frontline emergency and medical professionals and desperate families across various news media has been truly heartbreaking. We can only imagine how stressful and upsetting events in India are for communities here and in India, with many having lost family and friends while others are growing more anxious about the health, safety and wellbeing of loved ones. 

Throughout the pandemic, I have spoken in this place about the incredible resilience, compassionate community spirit and proactive leadership shown by our multicultural community leaders and organisations in response to the COVID pandemic. I would like to commend our Indian community organisations, which have been working in collaboration with government agencies and the not-for-profit sector throughout the pandemic. In addition, these generous organisations have also conducted fundraising activities for those who are facing multiple hardships as they are impacted by the COVID crisis. 

I wish to take this opportunity to thank a number of community leaders, including Dr Sridhar Nannapaneni, SAMEAC Member; Mr Rajendra Pandey from Vishva Hindu Parishad of Australia; Mr Amarjit Grewal from the Indian Australian Association of South Australia; Mr Sandy More from United Indians of South Australia; Mr Daljeet Bakshi from the Australian Sikh Support volunteers group and Desi Australia; Mrs Usha Rajagopalan from the Hindu Society of South Australia; and their committees, along with many other individuals who have raised concerns and shared important information with me in recent times. 

I acknowledge their compassionate work and valuable feedback and thank them for their strong advocacy and continuing efforts and willingness to work closely with our state and federal governments. I look forward to meeting tomorrow with the Indian Consul General, Mr Manish Gupta, and also Mr Amarjit Grewal and the IAASA team to discuss how we can work together to best support the Indian community in South Australia during this difficult time. 

As the Premier outlined yesterday in his ministerial statement, the government of South Australia stands shoulder to shoulder with the Indian community during this incredibly difficult and emotional time. The Department of the Premier and Cabinet is working closely with SA Health to see how we can best support the efforts to fight the crisis in India. SA Health is looking at what supplies of oxygen, PPE and consumables we can donate, and we are talking to the Australian government to work out the logistics on how to get the supplies safely to where they are needed most. 

As honourable members would be aware, the Prime Minister announced last week that the federal government is also sending an initial humanitarian support package to India. This package includes 500 ventilators and other medical supplies and PPE, such as surgical gowns, face masks, goggles, gloves and face shields, with more aid to follow. 

Let us keep all the communities that are impacted by the deadly disease in our thoughts and prayers. I wholeheartedly support the ministerial statement by the Premier and want to reassure the Indian community that our South Australian government is working closely in monitoring the situation in India and working with the commonwealth government to continue to support the Indian community during this sad and troubling time.