India overtakes Brazil as country second-worst hit by Covid-19

Published September 7, 2020
India says its rising infections also reflect higher rates of testing nationwide. — Reuters
India says its rising infections also reflect higher rates of testing nationwide. — Reuters

India displaced Brazil on Monday to take second place after the United States in terms of coronavirus infections, with 90,082 new cases whose numbers are expected to grow, while some cities re-opened underground train services shuttered for months.

With its nationwide tally of 4.2 million exceeded only by the US figure of 6.2 million, India is adding more cases each day than any other country this year since the outbreak of the pandemic.

Experts say there is no sign of a peak as cases surge in the world’s second most populous country, both in major cities, such as New Delhi and the financial hub of Mumbai, and rural areas that have limited access to health services.

“It’s becoming a double burden now,” Rajib Dasgupta, a professor of community health at the Jawaharlal Nehru University in the capital, told Reuters.

“The urban areas are not slowing down and rural areas are picking up.”

Monday’s jump was the third straight daily record in India, government data showed, provisionally carrying its tally past Brazil, which has just over 4.1 million cases, although the time difference means the South American nation will release its corresponding figure later.

The death toll of 71,642 in India compares with nearly 193,000 in the United States and 126,000 in Brazil.

India says its rising infections also reflect higher rates of testing nationwide, adding that high recovery rates show its strategy of testing, tracing and treatment is working and the situation is under control in a country of its size.

Read: How India's Silicon Valley saw its Covid-19 success come undone

Commuters were sparse as New Delhi resumed metro rail services after a break of more than five months, with stations nearly deserted. Bars will open from Wednesday in the capital.

Partial metro train services also opened in the western city of Ahmedabad, the northern city of Lucknow and several other places, after nearly six months of suspension over the pandemic.

Pressure is growing for the government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to pull the economy out of a deep freeze after a severe lockdown in March shuttered businesses, leaving millions without jobs, bringing a 24 per cent contraction in June-quarter GDP.

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