MUMBAI (Reuters) – India reported on Tuesday the highest number of new coronavirus cases globally for the 18th straight day, remaining well ahead of the United States and Brazil, a Reuters tally based on official reporting showed.
It took India from the end of January, when the country’s first case was reported, until July to reach around 1.6 million cases, a period when the government imposed a strict lockdown.
However, infections have rocketed by another 1.5 million since the start of August, taking the total to around 3.1 million, behind only Brazil and the United States.
The rate of new cases in India is increasing rapidly, climbing by 60,975 in the latest 24-hour period, according to the federal health ministry.
“If we cross the absolute numbers (in Brazil and the United States), I won’t be surprised, but we also have a larger population,” Giridhar Babu, epidemiologist at the non-profit Public Health Foundation of India, told Reuters.
But deaths have remained comparatively low – at 58,390, or 1.84 % of total cases – lower than the global mortality percentage of 3.4%
India reported its first COVID-19 fatality in mid-March, with the death toll rising to around 35,700 by the end of July. In August so far, around 22,600 deaths have been recorded. Deaths are considered a lagging indicator, given the two-week incubation period of the disease.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government has said it is reassured by the high recovery rate – around 75% of the total 3.1 million cases are no longer infected, according to data from the federal health ministry.
Amid the race to develop a vaccine, the ministry said India was in conversation with Russia regarding Sputnik-V, its experimental COVID-19 vaccine.
(Reporting by Shilpa Jamkhandikar; Editing by Rupam Jain and Mark Potter)