Record Deaths, Signs of 'Runaway Spread' in India

Experts believe true number of deaths, infections could be 10 times higher than reported
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted May 19, 2021 10:45 AM CDT
India's Record Death Count May Only Represent 10%
A man walks past an awareness message painted on a road during a curfew to curb the spread of coronavirus in Jammu, India, on Wednesday.   (AP Photo/Channi Anand)

The number: 4,529. That's how many COVID-19 deaths India recorded on Tuesday—a new record for the hard-hit country. The New York Times describes this as "the pandemic's highest single known daily death toll in any country so far," though Reuters reports the US still retains that title with 5,444 deaths recorded on Feb. 12. The actual death toll in India is likely much higher, as experts say many deaths from COVID-19 aren't part of the official death count, which stands at 283,248. Some believe deaths and infections in India "could be five to 10 times higher" than reported, per Reuters. Many people have described family members dying with symptoms without getting tests. India, home to 1.4 billion people, reported on Wednesday 267,334 new cases, pushing the total number to 25.5 million, the second-highest total for a country after the US.

Thyrocare, a chain of private labs, says 63.5% of people tested positive for COVID-19 antibodies on average over the last week, suggesting "runaway spread of the virus," per Reuters. Infections appear to be slowing in urban centers like New Delhi and Mumbai but spreading unchecked in remote parts of the country, where medical facilities and testing apparatus are limited, per the Times. Al Jazeera reports sick villagers are lying under trees in a futile attempt to boost oxygen levels. Two polls now show Prime Minister Narendra Modi's approval rating at a new low, per Reuters. The founder of Indian polling agency CVOTER says the nationalist leader "is facing the biggest political challenge of his career" as the number of respondents dissatisfied with his performance outnumber the number of satisfied respondents for the first time in seven years. (More India stories.)

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