India's COVID deaths cross quarter million mark, no sign of peak

International

New Delhi, 12 May: India said on Wednesday a record number of people were killed by the coronavirus in the past 24 hours, pushing its overall death toll over a quarter million, while a leading virologist said it was too early to say if infections had reached a peak.

Deaths from COVID-19 swelled by 4,205, while daily coronavirus cases rose by 348,421, with India's overall number of cases surging past 23 million, according to health ministry data. Even then, experts believe the official numbers grossly underestimate the real scale of the epidemic's impact, and actual deaths and infections could be five to ten times higher.

India's COVID-19 infection curve may be showing early signs of flattening, but the decline in the number of new infections is likely to be slow, said Shahid Jameel, a top Indian virologist.

"It is still too early to say whether we have reached the peak," he was quoted as saying by the Indian Express newspaper. "There is some indication of the cases plateauing. But we must not forget that this is a very high plateau. We seem to be plateauing around 400,000 cases a day."

India, with a population of 1.4 billion people, currently accounts for one in three of the reported deaths from coronavirus around the world, according to a Reuters tally, overwhelming hospital and medical staff, as well as mortuaries and crematoriums. Drugs and medical oxygen are in short supply.

Rural parts of India are also running short of wood for traditional Hindu cremations and scores of bodies are washing up on the banks of the Ganges river which flows through the most populous areas of the northern plains.

 

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