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India became the second country after the U.S. to report more than 25 million cases of COVID-19 as it registered 263,533 new infections in the past 24 hours on Tuesday.
The virus claimed 4,329 lives, making this the deadliest day in the country since the pandemic began, Health Ministry data showed. The ministry said overall, 278,719 people have died of COVID-19 in India. The number of new Coronavirus cases has continued to fall since last week after it reached a peak of 414,188 cases on May 7.
However, the actual infection figures and the death toll may be several times higher as testing rates are low and many people may be dying at home, experts have said, warning India not to let its guard down. Case numbers are rising rapidly in rural regions where health facilities are ill-equipped and COVID-19 tests are unavailable. A court in northern Uttar Pradesh, India’s most populous state, criticised the authorities about the medical infrastructure in rural areas, saying it seemed as if the entire health system was at “God’s mercy,” broadcaster NDTV reported.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi urged state officials to focus their efforts on checking transmissions and ensuring health facilities for the poor in remote regions. In a bid to boost the country’s floundering inoculation drive, Health Minister Harsh Vardhan said India will increase vaccine supplies and expects to have 510 million vaccine doses by July. Although India is the global hub for vaccine manufacturing, only three per cent of the population of 1.3 billion are fully vaccinated, according to reports.