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India’s coronavirus tally crossed 8.1 million on Saturday with over 48,000 new cases being recorded in the last 24 hours, according to the latest health bulletin by the health ministry.

India has the world’s second-highest caseload, behind the United States, but daily infections have seen a decline since mid-September after hitting a daily record of over 97,500 cases.

The South Asian country added 48,268 cases taking its tally to 8,137,119 cases, the health ministry said Saturday.

There were 551 fatalities connected to the virus in the same period, bringing the total death toll to 121,641 the world’s third highest after the US and Brazil.

Some experts say India is well past its Covid-19 peak and the epidemic may be brought under control by February next year.

However, other experts have questioned the testing methods and warned that the major Hindu festival of Diwali and the onset of the winter in November may increase infections and again lead to a surge in cases.

The southern state of Kerala, where authorities initially had a handle on the virus, has been reporting the
most virus cases among India’s states, with over 6,600 cases daily.

New Delhi, among the worst-hit Indian cities, appears to be headed for the third wave of the infections,

reporting 5,891 Covid-19 cases on Friday, its highest-single day spike since the onset of the epidemic.

The increase in Covid-19 cases has also been linked to pollution levels in Delhi, which is preparing for its annual bout of “severe” and “hazardous” air quality levels, chiefly caused by burning of crop residue by

farmers in surrounding regions.

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