India’s COVID-19 death toll tops 200,000 as health systems falter

 India’s COVID-19 death toll on Wednesday crossed the grim milestone of 200,000, as globally record-breaking daily infection numbers had overwhelmed the health systems.

In the last 24 hours, the Health Ministry recorded 3,293 deaths related to coronavirus infection, bringing the total to 201,187.

At the same time, 362,567 new infections were reported in the highest single-day surge of cases worldwide for seven days straight, taking India’s total caseload to 17.9 million.

India ranks second behind the United States’ 32.1 million cases, while its fatalities count ranks fourth behind the U.S., Brazil and Mexico, which have all crossed 200,000 deaths.

But with about 300,000 cases and 3,000 deaths recorded per day, India is likely to cross more bleak milestones in the future.

Ten states in the world’s second-most populous country account for 74 per cent of cases, including in the hotspots of Maharashtra and New Delhi.

The capital and other affected areas were under lockdown, as infections have crippled the health system and overburdened funeral sites.

Shortages of beds and medical oxygen have been blamed for dozens of deaths across states.

Video footage showed relatives of patients outside hospitals pleading or getting angry over the lack of medical care.

The situation has prompted many countries, including the U.S., to send ventilators, oxygen plants and anti-viral drugs.

Experts attribute the rapid spread of cases to more infectious variants, including a so-called double mutation, and people’s failure to observe safety measures.

Several countries have banned flights from India, including Australia, Malaysia, Germany, Belgium and Italy. (dpa/NAN)