By Len Ramirez

SAN JOSE (KPIX) – A dire situation worsening by the day in India where COVID-19 cases and deaths are surging.

There are mass cremations in India’s largest cities and more deaths everyday as the country has run out of the oxygen tanks used to keep COVID patients alive.

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The story hit home for San Jose Assemblymember Ash Kalra, whose aunt in India was one of the victims.

“They couldn’t get a hospital bed, and they couldn’t get oxygen even to have at home. Neither were available and so she passed away at home without being treated at all,” Kalra said.

The Bay Area is home to one of the largest Indian American communities in the country.

“It’s hard to be so far away and be helpless,” said Kanika Mediratta of Palo Alto.

Mediratta and her husband Rohit say family members in India have told them hospital staffs and infrastructures are breaking down.

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“If one nursing staff or doctor gets infected, others are getting scared and not showing up to hospitals and facilities. The situation on the ground is really bad,” Mediratta said.

The couple has launched GoFundMe accounts and a website which is connected to international relief agencies and the Indian government to begin shipping hundreds of oxygen units which will arrive next week.

President Biden pledged additional pandemic supplies to India including PPE which is also in short supply.

“We have to be strategic and responsible,” said South Bay Congressman Ro Khanna, who is hoping the U.S. will send its unused stockpiles of the Astra Zeneca vaccine to India.

“We cannot give those shots to Americans because our FDA has not approved them. So they literally will sit in a stockpile and not be used by an American. The question is are they safe enough to be used by the rest of the world,” Khanna said.

India has approved Astra Zeneca vaccine.

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But aid packages will not arrive soon enough to save many lives, as India topped 300,000 COVID cases
for the 5th straight day.