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Priyanka Chopra Jonas urges fans to help India’s COVID-19 crisis

▶ Watch Video: “It anguishes me”: India breaks another global record in new COVID-19 cases

As a second wave of COVID-19 wreaks havoc on India, the death toll from the virus topped 200,000 on Wednesday and the country posted an all-time high of 360,960 new cases, bringing the total to nearly 18 million. Hospitals in India are reporting oxygen shortages and and social media was ablaze with SOS requests for oxygen, hospital beds and medicine.

Actress Priyanka Chopra Jonas posted a plea on her own social media account, urging followers to care about the desperate situation in her home country. “Why do we need to care? Why is it so urgent right now?” the 38-year-old actress said. “I’m sitting in London and hearing from my friends and family in India about how hospitals are at capacity, there are no rooms in ICUs, ambulances are too busy, oxygen supply is less.”

Chopra Jonas also mentioned the “crematoriums having mass cremations because the volume of deaths is so much.” On Tuesday, families of the dead queued up at overworked crematoriums in Delhi to register for the last rites for their loved ones. One of the biggest crematoriums in the Indian capital’s Gazipur area was creating additional spots to burn pyres, as bodies laid in waiting. 

“India is my home and India is bleeding,” Chopra Jonas said. “And we, as a global community, need to care. And I’ll tell you why we need to care: Because unless everyone is safe, no one is safe.”

The actress and author set up a COVID-19 relief fundraiser with GiveIndia, and in her video, she urged viewers to donate. 

“Whatever you can spare, truly makes a difference. Nearly 63 million people follow me on here, if even 100,000 of you donate $10, that’s $1 Million, and that’s huge,” she wrote in the caption of the post, adding that donations will go directly to healthcare, physical infrastructure like COVID-19 care centers, medical equipment, and vaccine support. 

Chopra Jonas wrote that she and her husband, Nick Jonas, have contributed and will continue to do so. “We have all seen how far and wide this virus can spread, an ocean between us makes no difference,” she wrote. “No one is safe unless everyone is safe. It’s so heartening to see so many people stepping up to help in so many ways. We need to beat this virus, and to do that requires ALL of us. From the bottom of my heart THANK YOU.”

As hospitals in Delhi have continued to report oxygen shortages for more than a week now, long lines of people desperately trying to get an oxygen cylinder or a refill could be seen outside the vendors’ shops in the city on Wednesday. Amidst the shortage, oxygen cylinders and key coronavirus drugs are now being sold on the black market in Delhi. 

As of May 1, everyone aged 18 or above will be eligible for a shot. However, several states have already warned of shortages of the vaccines. India has only vaccinated about 25 million people fully so far — less than 2% of the population.

Arshad R. Zargar contributed to this report.

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