A Covon-19 coronavirus patient rests in a banquet room temporarily converted into a Covid care center in New Delhi on May 10, 2021.
Arun Sankar | AFP | Getty Images
India’s daily Covid-19 death toll hit another record high on Wednesday as the World Health Organization said the country accounted for half of all reported cases worldwide last week.
Health ministry data showed that at least 4,205 people died within 24 hours – the largest increase in deaths in a day the South Asian country has reported since the pandemic began. However, reports suggest that India’s death toll is under counting.
A total of 23 million cases have been reported in India and more than 254,000 people have died.
The World Health Organization said India accounted for half of all cases reported worldwide last week, as well as 30% of the world’s deaths.
India has reported more than 300,000 cases per day for 21 consecutive days. However, on Tuesday, the Ministry of Health said its data showed a net decrease in total active cases over a 24-hour period for the first time in 61 days.
The second wave began around February and accelerated until March and April, after large crowds, mostly without masks, were allowed to gather for religious festivals and election campaigns in different parts of the country.
India’s health system is under tremendous pressure from the surge in cases despite the influx of international aid, including oxygen concentrators, bottles and generation equipment, and the antiviral drug remdesivir.
To ease pressure on healthcare workers, India is recruiting 400 former medical officers from the armed forces, the Defense Ministry said on Sunday.
WHO update on India, South Asia
In its latest weekly epidemiological update on the pandemic, the UN Department of Health said it was observing “worrying trends” in India’s neighboring countries, where cases are also increasing.
In Nepal, for example, nearly 50% of all people tested for Covid-19 are reported to be infected as the inland struggles with a second wave. Vaccines are said to have run out when India stopped exporting given the situation at home.
The WHO recently classified variant B.1.617 of Covid, which was first discovered in India, as a matter of concern, indicating that it has become a global threat. The variant has three sub-lines, “which differ by a few, but possibly relevant mutations in the spike protein as well as by the worldwide prevalence of detection,” said the WHO in the report.
India’s dramatic increase in cases has raised questions about the role of Covid variants such as the B.1.617 and B.1.1.7, which were first discovered in the UK.
The International Health Authority said it recently carried out a risk assessment of the situation in India and found that the resurgence and acceleration of Covid-19 transmission in the country have several likely factors may have increased portability, as well as mass gatherings and lower compliance with public health and social measures.
“The exact contributions of these factors to increased transmission in India are not precisely known,” said the WHO.
Elsewhere, Prime Minister Narendra Modi will not personally attend a G7 summit in the UK next month due to the situation in Covid-19 at home, the Indian Foreign Ministry said. Modi was invited as a special guest by UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, the ministry said.