NEW DELHI (AP) – India’s confirmed coronavirus infections passed 5 million on Wednesday, still rising and testing the weak health system in tens of thousands of poor towns and villages.
The world’s second most populous country has added more than 1 million cases this month alone and is expected to become the pandemic’s hardest hit country in a few weeks, surpassing the United States, where more than 6.6 million people have been infected.
The Indian Ministry of Health reported 90,123 new cases over the last 24 hours, increasing the total to 5,020,359, approx. 0.35% of the country’s nearly 1.4 billion people. Its record high of 97,570 cases was reported on September 1
The ministry said 1,290 more people died during the last 24 hours, a total of 82,066, which is the third highest toll in the world. Experts warned that India’s mortality could rise in the coming weeks with restrictions on lockdown, except in high-risk areas.
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But authorities ruled out imposing another nationwide lockdown as recoveries grew by more than 78%. Its death toll is 1.6%, well below 3% in the United States and Brazil, according to figures from Johns Hopkins University.
Dr. Gagandeep Kang, an infectious expert from Christian Medical College in the southern Indian state of Vellore, said an increase in the number of cases in India was inevitable. But she said the country still has a chance to curb growth through a strategy for testing and isolating affected sites.
She said “the goal was for India to conduct sufficient testing to reduce the test’s positivity rate, or a fraction of the tests that tested positive to less than 5% or even less than 1%.”
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Most of India’s deaths are concentrated in its major cities – Mumbai, Delhi, Bengaluru, Chennai and Pune. But smaller city centers in Mahrashtra such as Nagpur or Jalgaon have also reported more than 1,000 deaths.
Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan said on Tuesday that only approx. 6% of coronavirus patients in India were on oxygen – 0.31% on ventilators, 2.17% on intensive care units with oxygen and 3.69% on oxygen beds.
The Maharashtra state, with more than 1 million cases, remains the hardest hit region followed by Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Uttar Pradesh. These states account for more than 60% of coronavirus cases in the country.
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Referring to media reports that some hospitals in Maharashtra state are facing a shortage of oxygen cylinders, Bhushan said supplies are adequate in the country but state governments should monitor the situation.
“The problem arises when there is no inventory management at a facility level,” Bhushan said.
The Ministry of Health said 155 health workers, including 46 doctors, have died so far due to COVID-19.
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India’s meager health resources are poorly distributed across the country. Nearly 600 million Indians live in rural areas, and with the virus spreading rapidly across India’s vast hinterland, health experts are worried that hospitals could be overwhelmed.
Nationwide tests India more than 1 million samples per day, exceeding the World Health Organization benchmark of 140 tests per day. 1 million people. However, many of these are antigen experiments that look for viral proteins and are faster but less accurate than RT-PCR, which confirms coronavirus by its genetic code.
As the economy fell by 23.9% in the April-June quarter, leaving millions unemployed, the Indian government continues to ease the restrictions imposed at the end of March. The government announced a $ 266 billion stimulus package in May, but consumer demand and manufacturing have not yet arrived.
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A large number of offices, shops, businesses, liquor stores, bars and restaurants have reopened. Limited domestic and international evacuation flights are operated together with train services.
Schools reopen for high school students for consultation with teachers next week.
Associated Press Science Writer Aniruddha Ghosal contributed to this report.