New Delhi, May 9 (EFE).- India on Sunday recorded over 400,000 coronavirus cases for the fifth day in a row, furthering pushing the weak healthcare infrastructure to the brink of collapse.
Deaths rose by 4,000 for the second consecutive day, bringing the total number of fatalities to 242,362 amid a growing clamor for a nationwide lockdown to curb the dangerous outbreak of the virus in the second-most populous country that has some of the most densely packed cities and towns in the world.
The federal health ministry data showed that 403,738 people tested positive for the virus in the past 24 hours, which is 2,600 cases more than the tally on Saturday.
With this, the overall tally of coronavirus infections in India has increased to more than 22.2 million, the second-highest after the United States, which has 33.4 million cases.
India has emerged as the global epicenter of the disease, with the second wave turning out to be more virulent and contagious than the outbreak last year.
The number of active cases in India stands at 3.7 million and with the positivity rate at a dangerous level of 22.7 percent, indicating the severity of the pandemic.
A month ago, the positivity rate was just 10.3 percent.
The World Health Organization (WHO) considers the pandemic under control in a country if the positivity rate is below the threshold of 5 percent.
To lower the rate, India needs to increase the number of tests conducted daily.
However, laboratories and hospitals across many cities are overwhelmed with long queues, causing unprecedented delays in the Covid-19 test results.
The delay has triggered a big pileup of pending tests that have prevented disease control and quick identification and isolation of infected persons.
According to the government data, health workers conducted a total number of 1.8 million tests during the previous day.
The figure has not increased significantly compared to last October when 1.1 million tests were carried out daily amid an average of 70,000 cases a day.
Hospitals and health centers across the country are struggling to cope with a massive patient rush amid an acute shortage of oxygen and beds.
Morgues and crematoriums are also overflowing as experts speculate that the actual Covid-19 cases and fatalities could be much higher than reported by the government.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi is being widely criticized for his alleged failure in stopping the virus outbreak.
The government allowed religious gatherings in March-April after the country reported less than 9,000 daily cases and 80 deaths.
Election rallies presided over by Modi, and his Home Minister Amit Shah drew thousands in recent weeks without regard for social distancing measures.
The federal government has not imposed a nationwide lockdown, fearing that the pandemic-battered economy would face more downturn.
However, many regions have enforced restrictions to curb the rapidly spreading wave, partially blamed on a “double mutant” Indian strain of the virus.