India records less than 300,000 Covid-19 cases after 26 days

New Delhi, May 17 (EFE).- India on Monday reported 281,386 new Covid-19 infections, marking a further decline in daily reported cases but daily deaths remained above 4,000.

Daily infections dropped below 300,000 for the first time since April 21, increasing the overall caseload in the country to 24.9 million.

The daily death count stood at 4,106, mounting the toll to 274,411 since the pandemic erupted last year.

The government has recorded a gradual decline in infections for the past few days after reaching record numbers of over daily 400,000 cases two weeks ago.

However, experts have cast doubt on the official data because the virus outbreak has hit the rural areas that lack the testing and healthcare infrastructure.

“(The) drop in confirmed Covid cases in India is an illusion,” Vincent Rajkumar, a professor at the Mayo Clinic in the United States, said on Twitter.

Rajkumar, who edits Blood Cancer Journal, said the total number of cases in India was “a huge underestimate” due to limited testing.

“Confirmed cases can only occur where you can confirm: the urban areas. Rural areas are not getting counted,” he wrote.

India’s vaccination drive, touted as the largest in the world, has also hit a roadblock due to an acute shortage of jabs.

India has fully vaccinated just over 40.4 million people or less than 3 percent of its 1.35 billion population.

Several states have put on hold the vaccination drive due to the unavailability of the stock.

For example, the Kashmir Valley in the north of India administered not a single jab on Sunday with officials claiming that the supplies were not replenished in the past few days.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has come under fire for his alleged failure to curb the inevitable second wave of the virus that has been devastating.

A top virologist Sunday resigned from a panel of scientific advisers of the government for genome mapping of the virus.

Shahid Jameel, a widely respected scientist, had been critical of the government for allowing “super spreading” events like religious gatherings and political gatherings for regional elections in many Indian states.

“It is not the virus that created the mayhem in India,” Jameel said in a video on the daily Indian Express website.

“We allowed the virus to do this. The point is that we gave the opportunity to the virus not to just spread but to spread so quickly,” he said in the video recorded at a virtual event last week.

He said the country took its eyes off the dangers of the virus when it was mutating into a more virulent strain.

“In the five months from the peak in September to February when the cases were going down… we and our leaders started thinking that we have conquered covid,” he said.

“Now looking back, the curve had gone down because the virus strain was not as virulent. The second thing is that we were still observing the covid appropriate protocol.”

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