Another 4,205 deaths were on Wednesday confirmed over the previous 24 hours, a national record, taking total fatalities to 254,197. File photo
Gulf Today Report
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.
The World Health Organisation said the variant fuelling the surge had been found in dozens of countries across the globe.
India has confirmed 4,205 more deaths; setting another daily record and taking its official COVID-19 toll past 250,000 as it battles a ferocious surge in infections.
People try to console a woman mourning for the demise of her relative who died of coronavirus. AFP
Around 370,000 new cases were added in the last 24 hours, pushing India's total past 23 million, according to the health ministry. The figures are considered vast undercounts due to insufficient testing and records among other factors.
While vaccinations have helped to ease the pandemic crisis in the United States and Europe, India is in the grip of a devastating wave.
Another 4,205 deaths were on Wednesday confirmed over the previous 24 hours, a national record, taking total fatalities to 254,197.
But many experts believe the official numbers of people dying in India, which has one of the world's most poorly funded health care systems, are an underestimate.
"Even three to four times would be an underestimate," Anant Bhan, an independent health policy and bioethics researcher, told AFP.
Across India overwhelmed hospitals have been unable to treat people and there have too many bodies for crematoriums to deal with, and many Covid-19 deaths are not properly recorded as such.
The health ministry says 401,993 new infections were registered, taking the total caseload to 19.1 million.
Bodies being burnt in car parks and other public places have highlighted the scale of the crisis.
Bodies have also been seen floating down the holy Ganges river, stoking concerns that the virus is now raging in India's vast rural hinterland where two-thirds of people live and where health care is patchy.
On Wednesday, the number of bodies of suspected virus victims washing up on the banks of the Ganges in the northern state of Bihar rose to 71, according to officials.
Bihar's water resources minister said a net had been placed in the river to catch any more bodies.
Huge political rallies and religious events that attracted millions of people over recent months are two key factors being blamed for India's crisis.
A variant of the virus called B.1.617, which was first detected in India in October, is another.
A man tries to escape the heat emitting from the multiple funeral pyres of COVID-19 victims at a crematorium in New Delhi. AP
Many nations have shut their borders to travellers from India in a bid to stop the variant from reaching their shores.
But it has been detected in at least 44 nations, the World Health Organization said on Tuesday.
Britain had the largest number of Covid-19 cases caused by the variant outside India, according to the WHO.
The organisation this week declared the strain a "variant of concern", placing it alongside three others that were first detected in Britain, Brazil and South Africa.
An aerial view of the crematorium in New Delhi. AFP
The United States has officially been the world's worst-affected country, with more than 500,000 confirmed virus deaths.
Under President Joe Biden, a successful immunisation drive in recent months has eased the crisis and the United States is now looking to share some of its enormous vaccine surplus.
Biden said Tuesday that almost half the world's leaders had asked him for US help in obtaining vaccines.
"Every country in the world is now looking at us to provide for their lack of capacity to produce and/or have vaccines," Biden said in a virtual meeting with US state governors.
"I literally have, virtually 40 percent of the world leaders calling and asking, can we help them," Biden said.
"We're going to try."
Biden pledged last month to distribute 60 million AstraZeneca doses, with India expected to be a recipient.
According to the health ministry, 401,993 new infections were registered taking the total caseload to 19.1 million. There were 3,523 deaths, bringing the toll to 211,853.
Another 4,454 deaths in 24 hours — the second-highest daily figure so far — took India's toll to 303,720. It has added the last 50,000 deaths in under two weeks, according to government figures.
India's total virus cases since the pandemic began swept past 25 million as the country registered more than 260,000 new cases and a record 4,329 fatalities in the last 24 hours.
The Health Ministry on Wednesday reported 4,529 deaths in the last 24 hours, driving the overall toll to 283,248. India also confirmed the daily cases dropped below 300,000 for the third consecutive day. Both numbers are almost certainly undercounts.
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