New Delhi, May 4 (EFE).- India on Tuesday surpassed 20 million coronavirus since the start of the pandemic, registering 357,229 new cases in the last 24 hours, while a virulent second wave has strained the country’s healthcare system.
The South Asian country also reported 3,449 deaths in 24 hours, bringing the total number of fatalities to 222,408, according to the latest data from the Ministry of Health, while experts believe that the actual figures could be significantly higher.
Tuesday’s figures represent a fall in the number of infections for the third consecutive day, after India recorded more than 400,000 cases on Saturday. However, the number of deaths have remained on its upward trend.
India is currently the second most affected country in the world by the coronavirus in terms of caseload, behind the United States, which has recorded a total 32.4 million infections, according to Johns Hopkins University.
The second-most populous country in the world has been reeling under a devastating second wave that has overwhelmed its health system, with a shortage of oxygen and beds reported in major cities, including the capital, New Delhi.
Meanwhile, more than 40 countries have started sending aid, including medical equipment, oxygen generators, oxygen cylinders, and concentrators, to India to help it fight the pandemic amid a shortage of oxygen and medicines in hospitals to treat critical patients.
The increase in cases across in the country has been attributed to the people letting their guard down against the coronavirus and the organization of events with mass gatherings such as huge electoral rallies during several regional elections and the Kumbh Mela, the largest and oldest religious congregation in the world.
The so called Indian “double mutant” or B.1.617 variant, and other strains may also be behind the sudden increase in cases, although for the moment virologists have said there is insufficient data to support this theory.
India relies on its vaccination drive to check the devastation unleashed by the second wave.
It launched the next phase of the program to extend the vaccination drive to everyone over 18 Saturday.
Until now, only those over the age of 45, frontline workers, and health personnel could get doses of either of the two available vaccines manufactured in the country, namely AstraZeneca’s Covishield and Covaxin from the Indian laboratory Bharat Biotech.
Several regions have announced their inability to go ahead with the new phase due to inadequate doses.
The vaccination rate has been slow since the drive began in January, with some 158 million doses administered so far.
During the last 24 hours, the country administered just 1.7 million vaccines, one of the lowest numbers recorded in recent weeks. EFE