India records world’s biggest single-day rise in coronavirus cases
India recorded the world’s highest daily tally of 314,835 new COVID-19 infections on Thursday as a second wave of the pandemic raised new fears about the ability of crumbling health services to cope.
Health officials across northern and western India including the capital, New Delhi, said they were in crisis, with most hospitals full and running out of oxygen.
Some doctors were advising patients to stay at home, while a crematorium in the eastern city of Muzaffarpur said it was being overwhelmed with bodies and grieving families had to wait their turn. A crematorium east of Delhi built funeral pyres in its parking lot.
India’s total cases are now at 15.93 million, while deaths rose by 2,104 to reach 184,657, according to the latest health ministry data.
The previous record one-day rise in cases was held by the United States, which had 297,430 new cases on one day in January, though its tally has since fallen sharply.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government ordered an extensive lockdown in the early stages of the pandemic but has been wary of the economic costs of more tough restrictions.
In recent weeks, the government has come in for criticism for holding packed political rallies for local elections and allowing a Hindu festival at which millions gathered.
This week, Modi urged state governments to use lockdowns as a last resort. He asked people to stay indoors and said the government was working to increase the supply of oxygen and vaccines.