India Now The Only Country To Report Over 3 Lakh Covid-19 Cases In A Day
India added more coronavirus cases in a day than any country has since the pandemic began even as Asia’s third-largest economy accelerated its vaccination drive to fight the world’s fastest-growing renewed wave of infections.
The South Asian nation reported 3.15 lakh fresh Covid-19 cases in the last 24 hours, taking the total tally to more than 15.9 crore, according to the Health Ministry’s update as of 8 a.m. on April 22. That’s 16 straight days of a record spike in new infections, bringing back ragged memories of what it was like in September last year when the virus was spreading at an aggressive pace.
Only two-and-a-half months ago, India on an average was reporting 11,000 cases per day over the week. Now, on average, India add is adding 2.6 lakh cases daily compared with around 63,000 each in the U.S. and Brazil—the other two nations with a massive outbreak. Home to 130 crore people, India is only trailing the U.S. in total number of confirmed coronavirus cases.
India isn’t only reporting most new cases, but also recording highest daily deaths in the world after Brazil.
More than 1,400 Indians succumbed to the disease daily on an average in the last seven days compared with Brazil’s over 2,700 deaths.
In terms of deaths per million populations, however, India ranks among the lowest, largely because of its size. India’s deaths per million is around 128 against the global average of around 380, according to Our World in Data—a project based at the University of Oxford in the U.K.
But videos of crowded mortuaries and funeral sites in states such as Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat and Chhattisgarh, circulating on social media paint a grim picture.
According to Rajesh Bhushan, secretary, Ministry of Health, Family and Welfare, age-wise Covid-19 death comparison between first and second wave showed more deaths happened this time in people aged above 70 years.
“If things don’t change, epidemiological models are predicting that India could be facing 5 lakh cases, 25,000 hospitalisations and 3,000 deaths every day in four weeks,” Bhramar Mukherjee, a biostatistician at the University of Michigan, said in an opinion piece published in CNN-News18.
While Maharashtra remained the epicentre, states such as Delhi, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Karnataka, Chhattisgarh, Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Punjab, Bihar and Madhya Pradesh are also enduring a severe surge.
The average of daily cases in a week in Punjab has gone up from 240 in February to more than 3,100, while in Chhattisgarh that has gone up from 250 to more than 11,500, the Health Ministry’s data showed.
The positivity rate among the states has also gone up. Chhattisgarh and Maharashtra are reporting a weekly positivity rate of more than 25%, while Delhi’s is over 15%. The national capital had reported 30% positivity on April 18.
India has conducted more than 27 crore tests so far, with over 16.5 lakh sampled in a day. Amid rising cases, the central government has urged states to increase the percentage of RT-PCR tests to over 70%.
Maharashtra, Gujarat, Kerala and Chhattisgarh, among other states with large outbreaks, according to the Health Ministry, aren’t doing enough RT-PCR tests. The percentage of such tests in Chhattisgarh, Uttar Pradesh and Gujarat is below 50%.
India has opened up Covid-19 vaccinations to everyone above 18 years of age from May 1, under the third phase of the world’s biggest immunisation drive.
The country has administered more than 13 crore jabs since January when the drive started, but fell short of the government’s target. Only 4.8% of the population has received single dose, while 1.3% got the second shot, according to Bloomberg’s vaccine tracker.
India plans to cover about 25 crore people with two doses by July. Bhushan in a briefing said nearly 80% of healthcare workers have received the second dose so far, while 79% of frontline workers have received the second dose. Only 40% of people above 60 years age have been vaccinated yet.
Still, there are concerns that some people have contracted the virus even after taking one or both jabs amid the severe second wave.
According to Balram Bhargava, Director General, ICMR, so far 0.04% people have tested positive after second dose of Covaxin and 0.03% after second dose of Covishield. In two to four per 10,000 people, breakthrough infections have occurred after vaccine.
“This is a very hard situation and we just have to brace ourselves and get through the next few weeks and get vaccinated,” Mukherjee told BloombergQuint, with a hope that like all other countries showing the second surge, the sharp rise will be followed by a sharp fall.