India records less than 20,000 Covid cases for the first time this year

New Delhi, Feb 20 (EFE).- India on Sunday recorded less than 20,000 coronavirus cases for the first time this year, a sign that the third wave in the country driven by the highly transmissible Omicron variant is waning.

A total of 19,968 cases were recorded in the Asian country in the last 24 hours, according to the health ministry.

This is the lowest figure since the third wave erupted at the end of last year — 16,700 infections were recorded on December 31 — with a peak at the end of January with almost 350,000 cases.

The positivity rate also dropped to 1.68% from around 17% just a month ago.

The World Health Organization considers a pandemic under control in a country if the positivity rate is below 5%.

With this latest data, India’s total caseload stands at 42.8 million, which is only less than that of the United States, with more than 78 million cases, according to the Johns Hopkins University’s count.

A total of 673 people died from the virus in the last 24 hours taking the number of deaths in India since the start of the pandemic to 511,903, behind the US, with 935,000 deaths, and Brazil, with 644,000.

However, several studies and experts have pointed out that the actual number of deaths in India could be 10 times higher than the official estimates as deaths outside hospitals are overlooked, especially during the devastating second wave between April and May 2021.

A study published in July last year by the nonprofit Center for Global Development (CDG) indicated between 3.4 million and 4.9 million excess deaths between the start of the pandemic and June 2021.

In this third wave in India, the Omicron variant has proven to be less virulent than the delta variant, which was predominant during the second wave when the country was recording more than 400,000 cases and 4,000 deaths daily, overwhelming hospitals and crematoria alike.

Also, unlike April last year, when the vaccination campaign was still in its initial phase, India has already administered 1.753 billion doses, although only about 774 million of the nearly 1.35 billion inhabitants of the country have been fully vaccinated. EFE


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