India saw more than 4,000 deaths linked to Covid-19 in a day for the first time even as more states declared lockdowns to control a second deadly wave of the pandemic sweeping the country.
At least 4,187 people died in the past 24 hours, bringing the death toll from the pandemic to 238,270, according to the federal Health Ministry.
The overall caseload neared 22 million as 401,078 cases had been detected since Friday, it said. Saturday was the third straight day that India saw over 400,000 new cases, after becoming the first country to cross that figure on May 1.
Health-care systems are now being pushed to the brink in southern and eastern India that are reporting unprecedented surges in infections.
Several states like Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Kerala in the south, as well as Odisha, Manipur and Bihar toward the east, have announced new lockdowns in recent days to break the chains of infection.
The second wave of Covid-19 has already caused havoc in health-care systems in the major cities of New Delhi and Mumbai, flooded hospitals with patients and overburdened cremation facilities.
India’s IT hub of Bengaluru, also Karnataka’s regional capital, has emerged as the virus epicentre in India: At over 310,000 it has the highest active caseload among India’s cities.
Hospitals have been stretched to the limit in Bengaluru with many not having a single intensive care bed available.
The surge in cases has also deepened the crisis in supplies of medical oxygen in the state, with Bengaluru hospitals raising concerns over the gaps in supplies.
India had been logging fewer than 20,000 cases in a day till early March after a decline in daily infections in January. In April, however, nearly 6.6 million cases were reported, overwhelming the country’s health-care system.
India ranks second behind the United States’ 32.6 million cases, while its fatality count ranks third behind the US and Brazil, which have both crossed 400,000 deaths.
Experts have speculated that the current wave of infections could peak by mid-May but past projections have been proved wrong.
More than 40 countries have offered support to India. The world’s largest cargo plane, an Antonov-124, carrying three 18-ton oxygen generators and 1,000 ventilators left Belfast on Friday as part of Britain’s latest response to India’s coronavirus crisis.