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India Covid-19

India’s Covid-19 tally crosses the two-million mark as cases spiral daily

Three young men walk past a mural honoring essential workers during the pandemic in Chennai, India, on 6 August 2020.
Three young men walk past a mural honoring essential workers during the pandemic in Chennai, India, on 6 August 2020. AFP

India’s Covid-19 cases doubled to more than two million in just 21 days as the virus moved deeper into the remote countryside after ravaging larger cities such as Delhi and Mumbai, federal health officials said on Friday.

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India posted 62,538 new Covid-19 infections for the first time in a single day with 886 fatalities that pushed the nationwide tally of confirmed cases to 2,027,074 with 41,585 deaths, the world's fifth-biggest total.

The country of 1.3 billion people had been reporting a little over 50,000 confirmed infections every day since July 30.

The Hindustan Times daily citing public health experts said India’s next million Covid-19 cases may come in just over two weeks.

India is now the third country after Brazil and the United States to cross the two-million mark.

Pandemic’s shifting geography

Experts said the pandemic, which has scarred larger cities, seemed to reached the countryside which has scared health facilities.

"This upward graph is alarming and it is easy to see the virus is now targeting the hinterland and the southern peninsula," a scientist from the policy-making Indian Council of Medical Research told RFI.

"Almost 38 percent of all new cases since July 17, when India’s Covid-19 tally crossed the one-million mark, were reported from five of India’s 29 states," he added.

The pandemic’s shifting geography was also underlined by Randeep Guleria, director of the All India Institute of Medical Sciences.

"It has moved to new areas and we need to have aggressive strategies in these areas so that the number of cases there can come down," Guleria told NDTV station.

Despite such warnings, cities and towns have started to reopen, often at the cost of social distancing rules and safety precautions.

"People are rapidly shifting to low-cost face masks and sanitizers because they think they are in it for the long haul but they don’t realize the risks they may be taking," Delhi-based pharmacist Sanjeev Singal told RFI.

"See? Our counters are empty," added the drug store owner.

Herd Immunity

The federal health ministry however said a total of 1,378,105 Covid-19 cases patients had recovered so far.

It attributed the high recovery rate of coronavirus patients to "ramped up hospital infrastructure, widespread testing combined with supervised isolation and effective treatment."

"These have ensured declining percentage in active cases," the ministry said in a statement as experts such as critical care specialist Vivek Nangia suggested so-called "herd immunity" may have contributed.

"Whatever cases that we are getting, mostly are milder now and that is because of herd immunity that people are developing from their neighbors or friends, who might have been asymptomatic carriers," the Delhi-based physician said.

Is India under-reporting Covid-19 deaths?

India’s government face charges of under-counting Covid-19 deaths. Some 200 people including epidemiologists, demographers and activists in a joint letter this week sought details of the pandemic.

"This letter is really a cry from the academicians who are engaged with wanting to look at the data of how is Covid rolling out, how is it presenting itself, how is it evolving as an infection that is effecting almost every country," said K. Sujatha Rao, a former government health secretary.

"There is just no data available for India to make any meaningful analysis," Rao told a TV station.

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