December 4, 2023

People receive their Covid-19 vaccines from medical professionals at a vaccination center set up in the classroom of a state school in New Delhi, India on May 4, 2021.

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India reported the highest increase in Covid-19 deaths in a day, as cases remained below 300,000 for the third day in a row.

On Wednesday, data from the Ministry of Health showed that at least 4,529 people had succumbed to the disease in a 24-hour period as 267,334 new cases were recorded.

India has so far reported more than 25 million cases and over 283,000 deaths. However, experts believe the numbers will be less than the actual toll as the tests are limited in some places, especially in rural areas where there is currently an increase in some cases. Many patients who have died at home – due to hospitals running out of beds – are also usually excluded from the official list.

The South Asian nation has tested between 1.5 and 2 million samples daily for the past seven days, according to the government. The test positivity rate fell from 19.45% last Thursday to 13.31% on Wednesday starting at 8 a.m. local time.

Some have suggested that the second wave has already peaked after daily cases hit a record high of over 414,000 on May 7. However, there are growing concerns about the spread of the pandemic in rural India, where smaller towns and villages lack adequate health-care infrastructure to surge in cases where large metropolitan areas like New Delhi and Mumbai have run into trouble.

In its latest weekly epidemiological update on the pandemic, the World Health Organization said that all regions except the Western Pacific region reported a decline in new cases in the past week, when the reported number was similar to the week before.

The Southeast Asia region, which includes the South Asian and Southeast Asian member states, saw cases last week decreased by 12% and the death toll by 7% compared to the previous week. In Nepal, which is also facing a Covid crisis, the number of new cases rose by 8% and the death toll rose by 266% to around 4.2 new deaths per 100,000 people.

WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus last week urged member countries to continue donating vaccines to the Covax initiative to increase vaccine supply to low-income countries, which receive only about 0.3% of global doses.

He pointed out that countries like Nepal, Sri Lanka, Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand and Egypt beyond India are also dealing with spikes in cases and hospitalizations.

“Trickle-down vaccination is not an effective strategy to fight a deadly respiratory virus,” he said.