Death in the Himalayas: Poverty, fear propel India’s COVID crisis –

Pramila Devi’s shrouded body lay on a bier, resting on a rock on the banks of a muddy Ganges.

The 36-year-old mother of three children died the previous night in a village in the mountainous northern state of Uttarakhand, a day after testing positive for COVID-19.

Devi’s death on Sunday is a sign of how poverty, fear and a lack of facilities are adding to COVID-19 fatalities in remote villages, where many shun tests for fear of testing positive and being forced to go to a hospital far from home.

India’s COVID-19 caseload stands at 27.37 million, with 315,235 deaths, Thursday’s federal government data show. But some experts estimate numbers are far higher, due in part to low testing rates in India’s hinterlands where COVID-19 cases are spreading rapidly.

Devi’s eldest daughter got married and moved away in late April after the family hosted a ceremony attended by over two dozen people, her husband Suresh Kumar, 43, told Reuters news agency.

Two weeks after that, Devi suffered a bout of diarrhoea. But it was not until 10 days later that Kumar, who has no income and depends on handouts, took her to a nearby dispensary that has been turned into a

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