India recorded 4,529 Covid-19 deaths on Tuesday, the pandemic’s highest single daily death toll in any country so far, the authorities said on Wednesday, as the virus spread into the country’s vast hinterlands.
The previous deadliest day for a single country was recorded in the United States in January, when 4,468 people died.
Many experts believe the true number of deaths and infections in India, a country of 1.4 billion people, is even higher, and evidence has emerged across the country of large numbers of people dying from Covid who have not been officially counted.
India reported 267,000 new cases on Tuesday, pushing the official case tally past 25 million, with more than 280,000 deaths.
While infections seem to be slowing down in some of India’s urban centers, including New Delhi and Mumbai, the virus is spreading in the countryside. Testing there is limited, the medical infrastructure is woefully underfunded and overwhelmed, and some leaders have been trying to downplay the damage, sometimes even criminalizing cries for help.
Experts warn that a drop in new daily cases is likely to be a reflection of the success of urban lockdowns, and that the virus is still spreading elsewhere unchecked. Hospitals remain short of supplies, and the vaccination campaign has been slow. The death toll has remained over 4,000 for several days, suggesting that even if new infections are decreasing in urban centers, those infected earlier are dying.
The virus has taken a heavy toll on India’s doctors and medical workers as well.
More than 1,000 doctors have died of Covid since the pandemic began last year. The rate of deaths has been much higher, and the age of victims often much younger, since the second wave of infections started this spring. More than 260 doctors have died since April, according to the Indian Medical Association.
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