India reported a record 412,262 new COVID-19 cases on Thursday and a record 3,980 daily death toll, as a second wave of infections swamps the health system and spreads from cities into the vast countryside.
COVID-19 infections in the world’s second most populous nation have surged past 21 million, with a death toll of 230,168, health ministry data show.
Government modeling had forecast a peak in second wave infections by Wednesday.
“This temporarily halts speculations of a peak,” Rijo M John, a professor at the Indian Institute of Management in the southern state of Kerala, said on Twitter.
With hospitals scrabbling for beds and oxygen in response to the surge in infections, the World Health Organization said in a weekly report that India accounted for nearly half the coronavirus cases reported worldwide last week and a quarter of the deaths.
Medical experts say India’s actual figures could be five to 10 times the official tallies.
India’s COVID-19 crisis has been most acute in the capital, New Delhi, among other cities, but in rural areas – home to nearly 70% of India’s 1.3 billion people – limited public healthcare is posing more challenges.
“The situation has become dangerous in villages,” said Suresh Kumar, a field coordinator with Manav Sansadhan Evam Mahila Vikas Sansthan, a human rights charity.