India now has more than 500,000 confirmed coronavirus cases, according to government figures released Saturday that showed a record daily leap of 18,500 new infections. The record coronavirus toll in India comes before the disease is predicted to peak, which has heightened fears of a complete collapse of the national healthcare system when India moves into the peak of the pandemic.
Authorities said a total of 15,685 people had died after another 385 fatalities were added to the toll in 24 hours.
Record coronavirus toll in India ahead of predicted peak
The pandemic is not expected to peak in India for several more weeks and experts say the number of cases could pass one million before the end of July.
Some state governments are considering imposing new lockdowns. A hard-hitting nationwide lockdown that started March 25 is gradually being eased because of the damage caused to the economy.
The virus has particularly hit India’s densely populated cities and there are now major concerns for New Delhi which has overtaken Mumbai with nearly 80,000 cases.
The city’s government has predicted it will have 500,000 infections by the end of July. It is already using railway carriages to house patients and has taken over hotels and banquet halls to relieve the pressure on hard-pressed hospitals.
The government has been criticised over a lack of testing that experts say has hidden the true number of cases in India, which now stands at 509,000.
The country is currently fourth in the world for the number of infections, behind the United States, Brazil and Russia, though it has a much lower death toll.
Delhi gears up for mass testing amid record coronavirus toll in India
In a bid to boost tracing efforts, Delhi authorities have called in 33,000 health workers to screen about two million people in sealed off zones across the city of 20 million people.
But cities across the nation of 1.3 billion people are braced for a huge wave of new cases in coming weeks.
“It is likely that we’re going into a state, unless we are able to reinforce a strict physical distancing mechanism or a hard lockdown, where the rate of infection will continue to increase,” said Anant Bhan, a leading public health expert.
INDIA: Delhi overtakes Mumbai to become the nation's worst-hit city with largest number of coronavirus cases.
— Norbert Elekes (@NorbertElekes) June 25, 2020
“Unlike China, where the pandemic was relatively more concentrated around Wuhan and a few other cities, India has a more diffused spread that makes it a bit more challenging for the healthcare system,” he told AFP.
Bhan said India might see several peaks in coming months because the spread of the virus “is variable across the country”.
Modi fights corona by promoting yoga
Earlier, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has extolled yoga as a way of building a “protective shield” of immunity against the coronavirus, as his nation battles a surge in infections. India promotes yoga as the number of coronavirus cases in the nation is surging, with a record number of cases and infections being reported daily in the country.
Modi, a keen yoga practitioner who has long espoused the benefits of the ancient Indian practice, gave the advice in a YouTube message ahead of World Yoga Day on Sunday.
Read more: India promotes yoga to combat coronavirus
“We all know that until now nowhere in the world have they been able to develop a vaccine for COVID-19 or coronavirus,” Modi said in the video published Thursday.
“Which is why right now, only a strong immunity can act as a protective shield or a bodyguard for us and our family members… yoga is our trusted friend in building this protective shield (of immunity).”
Coronavirus in India spiralling out of control
As of today, the number of people infected by the Novel Coronavirus and suffering from the associated disease COVID-19 in India has crossed 500,000. There have been more than 15,000 deaths associated with the disease. A statistic to take heart from is the fact that 296,000 people suffering from COVID-19 have recovered.
COVID-19 associated lockdowns have caused a slowdown in the Indian economy, with experts saying that it will shrink by as much as 8% this year. Estimates do not show it recovering before 2022.
The World Bank has also sounded the alarm over the dismal economic situation that the world finds itself in, and has indicated that the slowdown forecasted in India will have global ramifications. It has asked fiscal policy makers the world over to pay special attention to the economic fallout forecasted amid the pandemic.
AFP with additional input by GVS News Desk
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