The surge in the number of cases sees India become the third country to report more than 2 million cases, behind the United States – which has recorded almost 4.9 million cases – and Brazil, which has recorded some more than 2.9 million, according to a count from Johns Hopkins University (JHU).
The infection rate in India has increased exponentially in recent weeks. It took nearly six months for the country to register 1 million cases, another 12 days to reach 1.5 million and just nine days to reach 2 million.
After initially appearing to have curbed the spread of the virus, India, the world’s second most populous country, has struggled to cope with the rapidly expanding epidemic.
The virus has also hit celebrities, including Bollywood star Amitabh Bachchan, one of India’s most famous actors. The 77-year-old announced on Sunday he was released from hospital after a three-week stay.
But Indian health officials have said part of the reason for the surge in cases is an increase in testing.
Since July 29, when the number of cases in India exceeded 1.5 million, the country has performed around 5 million tests, bringing its total number of tests to 22.7 million on Thursday, according to the Indian Council of Medical Research . And according to health authorities, around 68% of confirmed cases have now recovered.
In India, not all patients need a test to be considered well. Patients with mild and moderate symptoms are considered to be no longer active after 10 days of onset of symptoms if they meet certain conditions, and testing to confirm they are no longer virus-free is not needed. . However, severe cases can only be released after a negative coronavirus test.
Compared with other countries, India’s death rate remains low. According to JHU data, India has around three deaths per 100,000 population, compared with nearly 67 deaths per 100,000 in the UK, which has the highest death rate among the 20 worst-affected countries.
Epidemic in India
Although India now has one of the largest known epidemics in the world, it has taken relatively swift action against the coronavirus during the early stages of the pandemic.
In March, Prime Minister Narendra Modi ordered a “full” lockdown of India’s 1.3 billion people, making it the largest lockdown in the world.
Although these measures have been gradually relaxed over the past few months, some hard-hit areas of the country are still under strict coronavirus restrictions.
The country’s move to a lockdown likely helped soften the impact of the outbreak, experts have suggested. But the lockdown has also highlighted inequalities in India, especially in urban areas.
After India announced its nationwide lockdown, millions of daily wage earners living in cities were left out of work. Some have chosen to travel thousands of kilometers to return home to their families in other parts of the country.
And for the roughly 74 million people living in India’s overcrowded slums, social distancing was impossible. A study last month found that more than half of residents living in Mumbai’s overcrowded slums may have contracted coronavirus, meaning they were likely infected at a much higher rate than those who don’t live in the cities. slums.
CNN’s Vedika Sud contributed to this report.