People receive their Covid-19 vaccines from medical workers at a vaccination centre set up in the classroom of a government school on May 04, 2021 in New Delhi, India.
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India reported its highest single-day increase in Covid-19 deaths as cases stayed below 300,000 for the third straight day.
On Wednesday, health ministry data showed at least 4,529 people succumbed to the disease over a 24-hour period as 267,334 new cases were registered.
India has reported more than 25 million cases and over 283,000 deaths so far. But experts suggest the figures undercount the actual toll as testing is limited in some places, particularly in rural areas currently experiencing a surge in cases. Many patients who have died at home — due to hospitals running out of beds — are also typically left out of the official tally.
The South Asian nation has been testing anywhere between 1.5 million to 2 million samples daily over the last seven days, according to government data. The test positivity rate has come down from 19.45% last Thursday to 13.31% on Wednesday as of 8 a.m. local time.
Some have suggested that the second wave may have already reached its peak after daily cases reached a record high of over 414,000 on May 7. But there is growing concern over the pandemic’s spread into rural India, where smaller towns and villages do not have adequate health-care infrastructure to handle a sharp rise in cases that left big metropolitan cities like New Delhi and Mumbai scrambling.
In its newest weekly epidemiological update on the pandemic, the World Health Organization said that all regions reported a decline in new cases apart from the Western Pacific Region last week, where the reported number was similar to the week before.
The South-East Asia region, which includes South Asian and Southeast Asian member states, saw a 12% decline in cases and a 7% increase in death toll last week compared with the previous week. Nepal, which is also facing a Covid crisis, saw an 8% rise in new cases and a 266% jump in the death toll to about 4.2 new fatalities per 100,000 people.
WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus last week urged member countries to continue donating vaccines to the Covax initiative so that it can increase vaccine supply to low-income countries, which are receiving only about 0.3% of global doses.
He pointed out that beyond India, countries like Nepal, Sri Lanka, Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand and Egypt are also dealing with spikes in cases and hospitalizations.
“Trickle down vaccination is not an effective strategy for fighting a deadly respiratory virus,” he said.