NEW DELHI: The death toll from the novel coronavirus in India passed the grim 100,000 mark on Saturday as the pandemic continued to rage across the country.
According to India’s health ministry figures, a total of 100,842 people have now died, giving India the third-highest death toll in the world behind the United States and Brazil.
India has recorded 6.47 million cases and is on course to overtake the US as the country with the most infections in the coming weeks. India’s population is around four times larger than that of the United States, which has seen more than twice as many deaths, raising doubts about India’s official numbers.
Even though India is carrying out around one million tests per day, as a percentage of the population its testing rate is much lower than many other countries. The United States has tested more than five times as many people as India proportionately.
India’s real numbers might be much worse than the official data suggest shown in a string of studies measuring antibodies to the virus among the population. India’s lead agency released a survey on Tuesday suggesting that more than 60 million people – 10 times the official figure -could have contracted the virus.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government is pressing ahead with opening up the economy even as virus cases surge. A strict lockdown imposed in March failed to stop the spread of the virus and also caused misery for millions of people suddenly left jobless. In the last quarter, the Indian economy shrank 24 percent, one of the steepest drops of any major economy.
International commercial flights remain suspended although limited services to allow citizens to return to their home countries have been operating. Trains, metros, domestic flights, markets and restaurants have already reopened or resumed service, with some restrictions.
On Wednesday, the government said that all schools could re-open along with cinemas and swimming pools. The state of Uttar Pradesh state is allowing religious events from 15th October, clearing the way for major gatherings in India’s upcoming festive season.
The state of Bihar will allow 70 million voters to cast ballots in upcoming elections, one of the biggest to take place worldwide since the pandemic began.
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