India reported a global record of more than 314,000 new infections in a single day on Thursday, and its dramatic spike in new infections shows no signs of slowing down.
The past seven days has consistently brought more than 200,000 new daily infections, raising the total number of cases to more than 16 million.
It’s the fastest pace of spreading infections and the highest daily increase in coronavirus cases the world has seen yet, and it’s pushing India further into a deepening and deadly healthcare crisis.
Let’s put India’s second wave in context
India’s rolling seven-day average is currently more than 265,000. That’s nearly three times what it was this time in February.
New cases have seen a steep increase since January, which is partly due to lockdowns being lifted, state elections, religious festivals, a new variant of COVID-19, as well as its massive 1.4 billion population.
The latest spike in daily cases has dwarfed the nation’s first wave where cases rose as high as 97,000. The daily new cases in this second wave are more than triple that amount.
The huge increase is also what’s driving much of the global increase right now, but India’s total number of cases is still just half that of the United States.
Daily new cases globally, compared with India and other countries
1/11/41/71/101/11/4Date0200k400k600k800kDaily known newcases since 100th caseBrazilFranceIndiaRussiaUSGlobal
Values shown are 7-day averages.
When cases rise, so does the death toll
Overall, India has confirmed 16 million cases of infection and at least 186,920 deaths.
When the number of new infections peaked last September, so too did the daily death toll.
And as India’s cases now climb to heights that eclipse that first wave, the daily death rate is likely to do the same.
In a sign of things to come, on the same day India recorded the world’s largest single-day rise in cases, deaths rose by a record of 2,104.
Note that in the chart above the spike on June 17, 2020, reflects 2,003 deaths being recorded as a result of Maharashtra and Delhi reconciling deaths attributed to COVID-19 that had previously been pending review.
With India’s health system struggling, things could get worse
A large number of hospitals are experiencing bed and medicine shortages, as well as running dangerously low on oxygen supplies.
The New Delhi High Court on Wednesday ordered the government to divert oxygen from industrial use to hospitals to save patients’ lives.
“You can’t have people die because there is no oxygen,” the judges said, responding to a petition by a New Delhi hospital seeking the court’s intervention.
Indian Health Minister Harsh Vardhan said demand and supply was being monitored around the clock.
The order came as 24 COVID-19 patients in western India died after the oxygen supply to their ventilators leaked and ran out.
The oxygen shortage in the country is so severe that Haryana state health minister Anil Vij accused the Delhi government of looting an oxygen tanker in transit, declaring that oxygen would be transported with police escort from now on.