India’s death toll from the novel coronavirus overtook France’s on Friday with 30,601 fatalities and nearly 50,000 new cases overnight, official data showed.
The death toll is the sixth-biggest behind the US, Brazil, Britain, Mexico and Italy, according to an AFP tally. It has the third-highest caseload with almost 1.3 million infections.
In the past 24 hours the country recorded 740 new deaths from the virus and 49,310 fresh infections, according to the health ministry.
But many experts say that with testing levels low, the extent of the pandemic across the world’s second-most populous country may be far worse than officially reported.
A antibody study commissioned by the government showed this week that almost a quarter of people in the capital New Delhi have had the virus — almost 40 times the official number.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government imposed one of the world’s strictest lockdowns in late March, but it has been steadily eased to lessen the devastating economic impact of the pandemic.
State governments have brought in fresh restrictions as cases soar in Bangalore and away from the big cities in Bihar, West Bengal, Kashmir and parts of Tamil Nadu.
Southern Kerala state, earlier hailed as a success story and which has already imposed partial restrictions, may decide on Monday to impose a full statewide lockdown, reports said.
US Tops 4m
The coronavirus pandemic hit grim new milestones on Thursday as cases topped four million in the United States and three million in Europe, as fresh spikes from Belgium to Tokyo to Melbourne forced new restrictions on citizens.
While EU lawmakers combed through a huge aid package for their economies, the UN called for a basic income for the world’s poorest to help slow the spread of the pandemic, and the Red Cross warned of “massive” new migration caused by the economic devastation.
The United States, the hardest-hit country in the pandemic, added one million new cases in just over two weeks, according to a tracker maintained by Johns Hopkins University. There have been more than 143,000 US deaths overall.
The country has seen a coronavirus surge, particularly in southern and western states, as Texas, California, Alabama, Idaho and Florida all announced record one-day death tolls.
Meanwhile, the European continent now accounts for a fifth of the world’s more than 15 million cases and remains the hardest hit in terms of deaths, with 206,633 out of 627,307 worldwide.
A 750-billion-euro post-coronavirus recovery plan was hammered out at an EU summit this week, where fiscally rigid nations butted heads with hard-hit countries like Spain and Italy that have called for huge aid grants.