May 19, 2021 – India reported the highest daily death toll from the coronavirus pandemic – 4,529 – on Wednesday as the virus raged in rural parts of the country.
The deadliest preceding day for a single country was recorded in the United States in January, with the deaths of 4,468 people. Many experts believe the actual death toll in India is even higher, as evidence has emerged across the country of large numbers of people dying from COVID-19 who have not been officially counted, the report said. New York Times.
The number of new cases was equally grim: India reported 267,000 new cases on Tuesday, pushing the official number of cases to over 25 million, according to the Times.
Meanwhile, British scientists have sounded the alarm over the variant of the coronavirus first found in India, the Washington Post reported. They have informed the government of that country in technical documents that it could be up to 50% more contagious than the already more contagious UK variant which has become dominant in many countries this spring.
Much remains unknown about the new Indian variant – known as B.1.617.2 – in part because Indian health officials have done so little genetic sequencing and cannot say how much it is responsible for the devastating epidemic there, the Post reported.
But Britain is running a consortium of gene sequencing labs that are constantly on the lookout for new ‘variants of concern’, and the arrival of the Indian variant has scientists and government officials in that country very concerned, said the post.
While infections appear to be slowing down slightly in Indian cities like New Delhi and Mumbai, the virus is now spreading like wildfire across the country, the Times said. Testing there is limited and the medical infrastructure is overwhelmed, the newspaper said.
Hospitals in India are running out of supplies and the country’s vaccination campaign has been slow. The death toll remained above 4,000 for several days, suggesting that although new infections are dropping in urban centers, those infected earlier in the outbreak are now dying.
The virus has not spared Indian doctors and medical workers either.
More than 1,000 doctors have died from COVID-19 since the pandemic began last year. The death rate has been much higher, and the age of victims often much younger, since the second wave of infections began this spring, the Times reported. More than 260 doctors have died since April, according to the Indian Medical Association.
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