How India is turning to social media to save lives during latest COVID surge

Families, friends and even hospitals in India are issuing desperate pleas for help on social media, as the country struggles to cope with COVID-19. 
Appeals for hospital beds, oxygen and plasma are flooding Twitter, as well as Facebook, Instagram and private messaging platforms such as WhatsApp.

“Need a bed for my COVID+ father,” one woman in Delhi posted to Twitter. “His oxygen has dropped to 79/80. Any leads will be appreciated.”
This outpouring of requests comes as India confirmed 16 million cases so far, second only to the United States, in a country of nearly 1.4 billion people.
The country is reporting record-high numbers of confirmed cases.


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Image: Twitter is being flooded with appeals for help – with people even sharing personal details such as phone numbers
People are sharing personal information – such as phone numbers – in their posts in a bid to get leads on available oxygen or beds as rapidly as possible.
The large amount of people seeking help on Twitter alone has prompted some to try to organise efforts to help.
Hashtags including #COVIDEmergency and #COVIDSOS are being used to earmark pleas for assistance. Tips for using Twitter – such as how to filter information for posts near you – are also being shared widely.
To keep on-going requests visible, posters are being encourage to delete their appeals once they have been able to find help.
But not all appeals end in success.
Sweta Dash, a local researcher, has been sharing a number of requests. This included an appeal on behalf of a 23-year-old woman who was 25 weeks pregnant and needed an ICU bed with ventilator.
Ms Dash later tweeted: “To everyone retweeting and/or responding to this query, thank you for trying. She did not make it through. She passed away in LNJP. It was too late.”
Medical staff and hospitals have also been posting asking for more supplies.

Image: Hospitals have been pleading for supplies on Twitter. The two hospitals named here are both situated in New Delhi
Some are issuing notices to advise that they have no beds available in a bid to stop queues forming outside hospital gates.

Bids for help and information are not restricted to social media.
Analysis of search patterns from India show that for the last 30 days, people in the country have been increasingly seeking information about oxygen.

Image: Searches for ‘oxygen’ have risen over the last month in India. Pic: Google Trends
That upward trend can also be seen across the last seven days.

Image: Over the last seven days, searches for ‘oxygen’ in India have steadily increased – with dips in results happening while the country sleeps. Pic: Google Trends
Those searching most actively have been based in Delhi, closely followed by Uttar Pradesh, Daman and Diu, Gujarat, as well as Dadra and Nagar Haveli regions.

Image: Over the past week, five of the most active areas searching for ‘oxygen’ included Delhi and Uttar Pradesh. Pic: Google Trends
More broadly, searches for hospitals and COVID-19 have also been increasing in the last 30 day period.

Image: People in India have been searching for the term ‘COVID hospital’ more as the last 30 days have elapsed. Pic: Google Trends

Source : Sky News