India reports 414,188 new COVID-19 cases, 3,915 deaths

India on Thursday reported 414,188 new cases of coronavirus, with 3,915 deaths across the country in under 24 hours.

India’s caseload now stands at 21,491,598 with nearly 3.5 million people who are actively being treated for COVID-19, according to the federal health ministry.

In just the past week, India has seen its COVID-19 cases jump by more than 2.6 million infections, a figure that, if it stood alone, would currently make India the 14th worst-hit nation in the world, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.

On April 27, the government reported 17.6 million total cases. In seven days, the caseload had shot to 20.4 million and a day later, cases rose to 21 million.

 The meteoric spike of the new infections has mounted further strain on healthcare system that is already on its knees.

India’s third COVID-19 wave coming

India is only battling its second wave of COVID-19 infections, fuelled by the double mutant of the virus, ferociously ripping the South Asian country apart.

 The government’s principal scientific adviser, K. Vijay Raghavan, has warned that even after infection rates subside the country should be ready for a third wave.

“Phase 3 is inevitable, given the high levels of circulating virus,” he told a news briefing. “But it is not clear on what timescale this phase 3 will occur… We should prepare for new waves.”

According to medical experts, actual figures could be five to 10 times the official tallies. The country has added 10 million cases in just over four months, after taking more than 10 months to reach its first 10 million.

“At this pace of infection, India is probably only detecting 3 or 4 percent of its cases,” says Chris Murray, director of the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington. “So we’re talking about every day, maybe 5 million infections a day in India right now. That’s a huge number.”

Government Resisting Lockdown

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government has been widely criticised for not acting sooner to contain the second wave, after religious festivals and political rallies drew tens of thousands of people in recent weeks and became “super spreader” events.

Deaths rose by a record 3,980 on Thursday, health ministry data showed, and daily infections rose by 412,262. The number has been in excess of 300,000 every day for the past two weeks.

The opposition has urged a nationwide lockdown, but the government is reluctant to impose one for fear of the economic meltdown.

Gasping for Oxygen

The demand for medical oxygen has increased seven-fold. According to The Times of India, the consumption of oxygen doubled in a week.

India’s Health Minister, Harsh Vardhan said that while India has enough liquid oxygen, it is facing capacity constraint in moving it. Most oxygen is produced in the eastern parts of India while the demand has risen in northern and western parts.

The surge in infections has also coincided with a dramatic drop in vaccinations because of supply and delivery problems, despite India being a major vaccine producer.

Britain, Germany, the U.S. and several other nations are rushing therapeutics, rapid virus tests and oxygen, along with materials needed to boost domestic production of COVID-19 vaccines to ease pressure on the fragile health infrastructure.

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