The total number of coronavirus cases in India has exceeded 25 million, increased by 263,533 new infections in the last 24 hours, while deaths from COVID-19 increased by a record 4,329.
India becomes the second nation in the world after the United States to overcome the dark milestone. The total case load in the country is now 25.23 million, while the death toll is 278,719, according to data from the health ministry on Tuesday.
The official count of daily cases began to decline last week, with new infections Monday at 281,386, the first time cases have fallen below 300,000 since April 21.
Even with a drop in infections in recent days, experts said there was no certainty that the infections would have peaked, with the alarm growing both at home and abroad over the new variant B. .1,617, more contagious.
“There are still many parts of the country that have not yet experienced the peak, they continue to rise,” World Health Organization chief scientist Dr Soumya Swaminathan told The Hindu newspaper.
Swaminathan noted the worryingly high rate of national positivity, around 20 per cent of the tests conducted, as a sign that it could get worse.
“The tests are still inadequate in a large number of states. And when you see high test positivity rates, it’s clear we’re not testing enough. And so absolute numbers don’t really mean anything when taken alone; they have to be taken in the context of the amount of testing that is done and testing the positivity rate. “
Hospitals have had to keep patients away while mortuaries and crematoria have been unable to cope with the bodies piling up.
Photographs and television footage of the burnt funeral pyres in the car parks and the bodies being washed up on the banks of the Ganges River have increased impatience with the government’s management of the crisis.
It is widely accepted that official figures severely underestimate the real effect of the epidemic, and some experts say actual infections and deaths could be five to ten times higher.
Although the first wave of the pandemic in India, which peaked in September, was largely concentrated in urban areas, where testing was introduced most quickly, the second wave erupted in the February spreads through rural towns and villages, where about two-thirds of the country’s 1.35 billion people live and evidence in these places is sorely lacking.
“This drop in confirmed cases of COVID in India is an illusion,” Vincent Rajkumar, a professor of medicine at the Mayo Clinic in the United States, said on Twitter.
“First of all, due to the limited evidence, the total number of cases is a huge underestimation. Second, confirmed cases can only occur where they can be confirmed: urban areas. Rural areas do not count “.
Although the blockades have helped limit cases in some parts of the country that had been affected by an initial wave of infections in February and April, such as Maharashtra and Delhi, rural areas and some states are facing new ones. climbs.
The government on Sunday issued detailed guidelines for monitoring COVID-19 cases with the health ministry, urging people to monitor people with flu-like illnesses and have them tested for COVID-19.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been attacked by messages sent to the public, by the decision to leave key decisions about closures in states and by the slow deployment of a vaccination campaign at the world’s largest vaccine producer.
India has completely vaccinated just over 40.4 million people, or 2.9 per cent of its population.
A senior virologist on Sunday gave up a forum of scientific advisers set up by the government to detect variants of the coronavirus.
Shahid Jameel, chairman of the forum’s scientific advisory group known as INSACOG, declined to say why he had resigned, but said he was concerned that authorities would not pay enough attention to the evidence as they set the policy.