India sets global record for daily coronavirus deaths

The Health Ministry reported a record of 4,529 deaths in the past 24 hours, driving India’s confirmed fatalities to 283,248.

It also reported 267,334 new infections, as daily cases remained below 300,000 for the third consecutive day.

The numbers are almost certainly undercounts.

The previous record for most daily deaths from the coronavirus was set on January 12 in the United States, when 4,475 people died, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

With over 25 million cases since the pandemic began, India’s confirmed infections are second only to the US.

Experts say new infections in India, which had been rising steeply, may finally be slowing.

But deaths have continued to rise and hospitals are still crowded with patients.

Over the last month, India’s COVID-19 fatalities have jumped six-fold.

While megacities such as Mumbai and New Delhi have seen signs of improvement in recent days, there is concern that the virus is spreading through the vast countryside where a majority of the people live and where health care and testing are limited.

The situation is particularly alarming in Uttar Pradesh, India’s most populous state with 200 million people, where a court Monday said citizens have been left “at God’s mercy.”

Even though new cases have been declining over the past week, the state has more than 136,000 confirmed active infections.

Weak data

Government officials are racing to limit the spread of the virus in the state’s villages.

Teams have reached nearly 90,000 villages and the virus has been detected in about 21,000 of them, the Press Trust of India news agency cited senior health official Amit Mohan Prasad as saying.

Health experts say the true extent of the virus is hard to gauge, in part because of weak data, and that the government response has come too late.

India’s vaccination drive is also faltering just at the time when it is needed the most.

The number of daily administered doses has fallen by about half over the last six weeks, from a high of 4 million a day on April 2 to around 2 million or less this week.

Many states say they don’t have enough vaccines to administer.