India set to overtake Brazil as 2nd worst-hit country by Covid-19

New Delhi, Sep 3 (efe-epa).- India’s Covid-19 cases saw a record surge of nearly 84,000 fresh infections on Thursday, taking its overall tally well past 3.8 million to come closer to edging out Brazil as the world’s second worst-hit country by the pandemic.

The second-most populous country in the world recorded 83,883 fresh cases and 1,043 deaths in the last 24 hours from Wednesday morning, according to the federal health ministry data.

With that, the overall tally has crossed 3.85 million infections and 67,376 fatalities.

India is now only 150,000 cases behind Brazil, which has a little over 4 million total confirmed infections and nearly 124,000 deaths.

The United States remains the worst-hit country with nearly 6.3 million infections and 190,000 fatalities.

India is likely to overtake Brazil in the number of cases within a couple of days, given that the South Asian nation has recorded the world’s highest daily totals for nearly four weeks now, roughly adding over 65,000 cases per day.

Infections in India have also risen faster than any other country in the past two months. It took just 16 days for the country to reach the 3 million mark from 2 million cases reported on Aug. 7. Another 850,000 cases were reported over the next 10 days.

The western Indian state of Maharashtra, whose capital is Mumbai – the entertainment and commercial hub of the country -, continues to be the worst affected region with nearly 826,000 Covid-19 infections.

The national capital, New Delhi, with an overall caseload of nearly 180,000 also saw the largest increase in daily cases in about two months with 2,509 new infections and 19 deaths.

Mumbai and Delhi are two of the most-populated and densely-inhabited cities of India.

Meanwhile, experts say that the novel coronavirus is spreading alarmingly in rural areas where most of the Indian population resides and where even basic healthcare infrastructure is often inadequate.

“The outbreak is shifting to rural areas of India now. The urban-rural distribution was 60:40 for the first million cases in India. It was 33:67 for the phase of 2 to 3 million cases,” virologist Shahid Jameel told EFE, citing the media-collated figures.

“This is really worrisome since the health infrastructure is poor in rural areas,” Jameel said.

India, a country of over 1.35 billion people, invests only 1.6 percent of its gross domestic product (GDP) in its healthcare system, according to the latest government economic data.

The virologist noted that the Covid-19 death rate in India is close to 1.8 percent, which is lower than the world average.

“Even deaths per million population is low for India at 47. For the US, it is 566 and Brazil 568. However, this is seen not just in India but across all of South and Southeast Asia.”

India has also increased its coronavirus testing capacity since the start of the pandemic. In the last 24 hours, a total of 1.17 million tests were carried out.

However, Jameel claimed that it was still not sufficient.

“The World Health Organization (WHO) says you are testing enough when you find one positive after every 20 tests. India is currently finding one positive for every 11 to 12 tests. This shows we should increase our testing.”

Several seroprevalence studies carried out by health authorities in cities such as New Delhi suggest that the impact of Covid-19 is much greater than what official figures show.

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