A Catholic bishop in Covid-ravaged India says seven priests from the archdiocese of Ranchi are currently admitted in hospital with Covid-19 symptoms.
Bishop Theodore Mascarenhas said he was forced to take each of the seven priests to hospital because there were no ambulances.
In an interview with Colm Flynn of EWTN News, Bishop Theodore Mascarenhas held back tears as he described the Covid-19 situation in his diocese.
“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,” 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.”
He said five priests from the neighboring Diocese of Dumka have died from Covid-19 in the last ten days.
“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,” Mascarenhas said.
India’s Covid-19 death toll crossed the 200,000 mark on April 28 following the deaths of 3,293 people in 24hours.
According to media reports, at least 14 Catholic priests succumbed to Covid-19 complications between April 20 and April 23. On April 17, five catholic priests from Gujarat died in 24 hours.
World Health Organization spokesman Tarik Jasarevic attributed the high rates of infection to a new variant discovered in India.
“Jharkhand is one of the states which has the worst health structure, infrastructure, it is among the poorest in the country,” Bishop Mascarenhas said.
"At least I could take my priests, my seminarians. The poor very often must rely on their villages. They are lying in their own homes -- even if they come to the hospital, there is no place for them,” he said. “And if those who get into the hospital, there is no oxygen.”
The bishop said although he interacts with the sick every day, he does not fear.
“I keep telling my seminarians ... we were ordained to serve and if that service can be like the Lord’s service then there is nothing like it,” he said.