India’s Covid-19 death toll surpasses China’s
Amy Kazmin in New Delhi
India’s coronavirus death toll has exceeded China’s total, with 4,711 people in India now confirmed to have died from the virus, compared with China’s official toll of 4,638, according to the Johns Hopkins University coronavirus tracker.
India’s confirmed coronavirus caseload has surged in the past few weeks as New Delhi has gradually eased a draconian lockdown imposed in late March in a bid to slow the spread of the deadly pathogen.
In total, India now has more than 165,300 confirmed cases, giving it the world’s 9th biggest outbreak of the virus, according to Johns Hopkins. Of the total cases, about 71,000 have recovered, while more than 89,600 remain active, according to the Indian tracker CovidIndia.org.
However, public health experts say India’s official death toll probably understates the true magnitude of the fatalities caused by the virus. Doctors say that patients who die at home — without being tested for the virus — are not being counted.
Even in hospitals, authorities in some states are under intense pressure to classify deaths of infected patients as being due to co-morbidities or other factors. Some Indian states, such as Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s home state of Gujarat, have been accused of deliberately restricting coronavirus testing, even among symptomatic patients, so as to hold down the official numbers and death toll.
Meanwhile, the number of coronavirus infections in India continues to rise rapidly as authorities relax restrictions in a bid to revive the battered economy.
Indian health officials have touted the relatively low percentage of cases that have required critical care treatment. But the country’s severely under developed healthcare system is already showing the strain.
India’s financial capital Mumbai, which has been hardest hit, is struggling to cope with the onslaught of patients.
In New Delhi, the national capital, private hospitals — which are preferred by well-heeled city residents over public hospitals — have only a handful of ICU beds for covid patients left.