New Delhi: India said on Monday that it has surpassed 300,000 coronavirus deaths, which is the third-largest death toll after the United States and Brazil, as it fights a huge wave of infections.
In recent weeks, the number of infections and deaths in this South Asian country has set a record for a single day increase, and its medical system has been overwhelmed by the Covid-19 wave.
Data from the Ministry of Health show that the number of casualties in India has increased by 50,000 in less than two weeks, and the death toll is now 303,720.
It reported 4,454 Covid-19 deaths in the past 24 hours, the second highest daily death toll since reaching a record 4,529 on Wednesday.
The continued high number of deaths came as infections fell in major cities, including the capital New Delhi and financial hub Mumbai, where lockdowns have been imposed to stem the spread of the virus.
“Deaths always will lag cases… People who have been diagnosed with infection now will go into hospital, and then a small number of them will die but that will be later,” Ashoka University biology professor Gautam Menon told AFP Monday.
Many experts also believe the real toll is much higher, particularly as the disease spreads into rural areas where the majority of the 1.3 billion population lives and where health facilities and record-keeping is poor.
This wave of enthusiasm overwhelmed the hospital, and the patients suffered severe hypoxia and lack of medicine.
The crematorium and cemetery also showed tragic scenes of funerals and temporary stacking long rows.
At the same time, people also found the bodies of suspected Covid-19 victims floating on the holy Ganges or buried in shallow graves.
“We are seeing the bodies along the river Ganges which don’t seem to be recorded as Covid deaths but are very likely to be Covid deaths,” Menon said.
“While everyone agrees that there is death undercounting, the question is — what is the extent of the undercounting and has it consistently been a large figure, or has it only gone up… over the past three weeks to a month.”
Experts warned that religious festivals and packed state election rallies held earlier in the year could have led to virus “superspreader” events and that mass vaccinations are the only long-term solution.
India has administered just over 196 million shots since mid-January, but experts say the programme needs to be significantly stepped up.
The country, home to the world’s largest vaccine maker, has halted exports of vaccines to meet local demand.