India recorded more than 8,000 new cases of the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) in a single day for the first time as the tally surged to 182,143 and death toll stood at 5,164, according to the Union health ministry.
Data showed there were 8,380 fresh Covid-19 cases, up from Saturday’s 7,964, and 193 fatalities in the last 24 hours. The number of deaths went down from 265 reported on Saturday, a day before the fourth phase of the nationwide lockdown was scheduled to end.
India went under a sweeping, unprecedented lockdown on March 25 when people were banned from stepping out of their homes for any purpose except for a handful of essential or emergency reasons. At the time, the number of cases in the country was 602, and deaths, 12.
The curbs have slowly been relaxed in the months since with the government announcing on Saturday a phased Unlock 1 plan from June onwards.
There were 86,983 people who have been cured and with this, the recovery rate in the country has gone slightly up to 47.75% from 47.40% on Saturday.
Most of India’s 182,143 Covid-19 cases and 5,164 deaths have been reported from Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Delhi, Gujarat, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh as the Centre extended the nationwide lockdown to June 30 but also allowed the resumption of some activities that had remained shut till now.
Maharastra continues to be the worst-affected state and has the highest number of infections at 65,168, including 2,197 fatalities. There are 21,184 Covid-19 cases and 160 deaths in Tamil Nadu, which extended the lockdown till June 30.
Delhi, which will decide on the lockdown extension on Sunday, has 18,549 infections, including 416 deaths and Gujarat with 16,343 Covid-19 patients has recorded more deaths than the national capital at 1,007.
Globally, more than 6 million people have been infected by Sars-Cov-2, which causes the coronavirus disease, and 369,126 have succumbed, according to the Johns Hopkins Covid-19 tracker.
India’s fatality rate at 2.8% till Saturday was much lower than the global 6%, data shows. India took 79 days to record these many deaths, while some of the major Covid-19 hotspot – such the United States, the United Kingdom, Spain and Italy – took less than a third of this duration to rack up similar counts.
Countries like Spain and Italy, and New York city, where hospitals were overwhelmed after a sudden spike in infections, have recorded a sharp increase in fatalities. Most of these regions enforced varying degrees of lockdowns after cases began to spike, compared to India that adopted such restrictions early on.
The country’s top experts said keeping fatalities down by focussing on health care facilities will now be the most crucial strategy to deal with the pandemic across the country, where the outbreak has largely taken hold and a rise in the number of infections is inevitable.
According to the Union health ministry on Saturday, the doubling time of coronavirus cases in India over the last fortnight has improved to 15.4 days from 13.3 days.
“Two things worked in our favour: the young demographic and early implementation of lockdown before cases exploded, helping flatten the curve and prevent deaths,” said Dr Ambarish Dutta, associate professor of epidemiology and public health, Indian Institute of Public Health-Bhubaneswar.
According to an analysis of laboratory-surveillance data by Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), the attack rate of Covid-19 in India is 0.00332%, which means that only 33.2 people per million population are infected.
It is considerably lower than the attack rates in other countries; in the US it is 0.2523%, in France 0.3364%, in the UK 0.1962% and in Canada 0.0899%, according to the US National Library of Medicine.
The health ministry reiterated on Saturday that all precautions, including physical distancing at public places and workplaces, frequent hand washing and use of masks or face covers, must be taken while “living with the new normal” of Covid-19.