COVID-19: India Overtakes UK's Tally, Becomes Fourth Worst-Hit Country

For the first time, the country reported more than 10,000 new cases in a 24-hour period.

New Delhi: India on Friday recorded more than 10,000 fresh cases of COVID-19 in a 24-hour period for the first time, taking the total confirmed cases in the country to 2,97,535. In the 24 hours before 8 am on Friday, 10,956 new cases of the coronavirus infection were recorded, the health ministry said in its morning update.

For the second consecutive day, the country also witnessed a record spike in the death toll due to the viral infection. According to the ministry, the deaths have now increased by 396, taking the total to 8,498.

For the past six days, India had reported just under 10,000 cases, finally breaching that figure on Friday. On Thursday, Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) director general Balram Bhargava once again reiterated that India was not in the community transmission phase.

“There is a heightened debate around the term and then the WHO has not defined it. The prevalence is so low in our country, below 1%. In urban areas it is little higher and a little higher in containment zones. We are definitely not in community transmission. It is only a term,” he said.

India now fourth-worst hit nation

India’s COVID-19 cases surged past that of the UK, making it the fourth worst-hit country. Only the US (2.02 million cases), Brazil (802,828) and Russia (501,800) have reported more cases than India. India’s death toll is also likely to overtake that of Iran and Germany in the next 24 hours, making it the ninth highest across the world.

According to the health ministry, the number of active COVID-19 cases stands at 1,41,842, while 1,47,194 people have recovered and one patient has migrated. “Thus, around 49.47% patients have recovered so far,” an official said. The total number of confirmed cases include foreigners.

According to data provided by Worldometer, India also has one of the highest number of ‘serious/critical’ cases. The websites says 8,944 patients are in ‘serious/critical’ condition and only the US has a higher number of such cases (16,827).

Medical workers wearing PPE take care of a patient suffering from COVID-19 at an ICU of  a private hospital in New Delhi, May 28, 2020. Photo: Reuters/Danish Siddiqui

Row over death toll in Delhi

Leaders of the three BJP-led municipal corporations in Delhi on Thursday claimed that over 2,000 COVID-19 deaths haven taken place in the national capital, while the official tally stood at 1,085 as on Thursday.

The Delhi government, reacting to the claim said, the COVID-19 death audit committee is “working impartially”, and this was “not a time for blame-game but to work together”.

At a press conference held at Civic Centre, North Delhi mayor Avtar Singh, East Delhi mayor Anju Kamalkant and chairpersons of the standing committees of NDMC, SDMC and EDMC shared the challenges faced by the corporations in the time of the coronavirus pandemic.

“Earlier also the [Arvind] Kejriwal government had reported less death when our tally from crematoria and burial sites had shown nearly three times of the official toll. And, now as per these figures, the number of deaths from COVID-19 in Delhi stands at 2,098 – SDMC (1080), NDMC (976), EDMC (42),” claimed Jai Prakash, the chairman of the NDMC’s standing committee.

The Delhi government later in a statement said it has set up a Death Audit Committee comprising of senior doctors, who are “working impartially towards assessing deaths caused by coronavirus infection”.

“We believe that not even a single life must be lost to Coronavirus. This is a time to unite and save the lives of the people. This is not the time to make allegations after allegations, we all have to fight this pandemic together and ensure that not a single life is lost due to coronavirus,” the statement said.

Delhi recorded 1,877 fresh coronavirus cases on Thursday, the highest single-day spike yet, pushing the COVID-19 tally in the city over the 34,000-mark. The official death toll due to the disease was at 1,085.

Fears of second wave in the US

About half a dozen US states including Texas and Arizona are grappling with a rising number of coronavirus patients filling hospital beds, fanning concerns that the reopening of the US economy may spark a second wave of infections.

Texas has seen record hospitalizations for three days in a row, and in North Carolina only 13% of the state’s ICU beds are available due to severe COVID-19 cases. Houston’s mayor said the city was ready to turn its NFL stadium into a make-shift hospital if necessary.

Arizona has seen a record number of hospitalizations at 1,291. The state health director told hospitals this week to activate emergency plans and increase ICU capacity. About three-quarters of the state’s ICU beds are filled, according to the state website.

Two men hold signs as they protest against the state’s extended stay-at-home order to help slow the spread COVID-19 at the Capitol building in Washington, US. Photo: REUTERS/Lindsey Wasson

In 100 days, Chile’s cases surge past 150,000

Chile on Thursday exceeded 154,000 confirmed cases of the new coronavirus and 2,600 deaths, one hundred days after the outbreak began and with the health service straining under massive admissions numbers.

“It has been a very hard 100 days,” health minister Jaime Mañalich told reporters in the capital Santiago on Thursday. “June is going to be the toughest month in the fight against the disease.”

Health authorities reported 154,092 cases and 2,648 deaths so far.

Chile reported its first case of coronavirus on March 3, brought by citizens returning from trips to Asia and Europe. By mid-month the government had declared a State of Catastrophe for three months, closed its borders, suspended classes and introduced rolling quarantines for the worst-hit areas.

(With agency inputs)