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#COVIDSOS: India’s Twitter becomes a platform of hope in the midst of despair | News about the pandemic coronavirus


Indians use social media as a helpline to search for oxygen tanks, hospital beds and scarce medicine as the virus continues to rise.

After spending consecutive hours calling the government helpline searching for a hospital bed for a critically ill COVID-19 patient, Indian lawyer Jeevika Shiv posted an SOS request on Twitter.

“A severe # covid19 patient on #Delhi with 62 oxygen levels needs to reach the hospital bed immediately,” Shiv, a member of the 350-member COVID-19 Volunteer Medical Support Group, said on Twitter late. last week.

Help arrives quickly. The patient found the bed and soon showed signs of recovery.

“In the end, the online help was up and running when everyone responded to the information,” says Shiv.

India is reporting more than 250,000 new cases of COVID-19 every day during the worst of the pandemic. Hospitals are turning their backs on patients and supplies of oxygen and medicine are running out.

In response, people are bypassing the regular media and turning to Twitter to solicit community assistance for oxygen tanks, hospital beds and other requests.

Persons in need and those with information or resources sharing volunteer phone numbers, providers with oxygen or medication cylinders, and details of which medical facility can accept patients by hashtags like #COVIDSOS.

Some users have offered help with home-cooked meals for patients with COVID-19 isolated at home and in response to a variety of other needs such as feeding arrangements.

Twitter user Karanbir Singh wrote: “Twitter is doing what the government helpline should do. “We are our own people.”

Twitter is not as widely used in India as Facebook or WhatsApp but it is proving to be a more valuable tool for getting help calls for help in the coronavirus crisis, largely due to its re-tweet functionality Its “can quickly amplify messages through users’ contact network.”

A Google spreadsheet created by a group of volunteers collating information about hospital beds, oxygen supplies, plasma and ambulance helplines in various states is being shared rapidly on Twitter and runs on dozens of pages.

Bengaluru-based software developer Umang Galaiya, 25, created a website that allows users to choose a city name and request – be it oxygen or the antiviral remdesivir – and then direct they reach results on Twitter using its pre-search feature. .
His website has received more than 110,000 hits.

“Every other tweet on my feed is about COVID,” says Galaiya. “I’m glad everyone found this helpful.”

But for some, the help is too late.

On Monday, journalist Sweta Dash posted a cry for help on Twitter to find a bed with a ventilator for a pregnant woman in New Delhi. Her message went viral with more than 100 retweets and a Delhi government official soon suggested a hospital.

But a few hours later, Dash posted another announcement. “The patient has passed away”.



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