India’s reported coronavirus cases climb above 200,000
Amy Kazmin in New Delhi
India’s confirmed coronavirus caseload has exceeded 200,000 infections — the seventh highest burden in the world — amid growing criticism from public health professionals over prime minister Narendra Modi’s handling of the pandemic.
India’s 207,000 confirmed infections put its outbreak just below Spain and Italy. Its official death toll from the virus, of just 5,829, is still much lower than other countries with similar caseloads.
Around 99,000 of those infected with the virus have recovered.
Public health experts believe the true number of infections — and coronavirus deaths — is likely to be much higher than the official total, given India’s low testing rate, and its poor record of identifying the causes of death of people who do not die in hospital.
India’s current testing rate is just 2,876 per million people, compared to 4,378 per million in Brazill and 68,011 per million in the UK.
The Indian Council of Medical Research warned that the pandemic will continue to grow in India, with the infection still spreading rapidly, and the caseload expected to peak in June or July.
Mr Modi imposed one of the world’s most abrupt, draconian coronavirus lockdowns in late March in a bid to slow the spread of the deadly pathogen, but the caseload continued to grow exponentially. Restrictions are now being lifted in a bid to revive the economy.
In a statement issued this weekend, prominent members of the Indian Public Health Association, the Indian Association of Preventive and Social Medicine and the Indian Association of Epidemiologists criticised Mr Modi’s government for its “incoherent and often rapidly shifting policies” towards the pandemic.
It said that if millions of migrant workers had been allowed to go home prior to the lockdown — or at its early stages — when the spread of the disease was still limited the current size and scale of the outbreak could have been avoided.