India once again reported a new record of daily coronavirus cases as hospitals across the country overflow with patients and experts warn the healthcare system is teetering on the brink of collapse.
The health ministry revealed on Sunday that 261,500 cases were registered in the past 24 hours, the fourth consecutive day when the country has reported more than 200,000 daily cases.
The figure pushed the total number of cases past 14.7 million, second only to the United States in terms of the number of coronavirus infections.
There were also 1,500 deaths, taking the number of fatalities in the South Asian country to 177,150, fourth on the global list behind the US, Brazil and Mexico.
In recent weeks, criticism has mounted over how the government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi handled the health crisis, as religious festivals and election rallies continue despite reports of shortages of hospital beds, oxygen cylinders and vaccination doses.
State governments have raised concerns over shortages and hoarding of anti-viral drug remdesivir.
Experts have warned about the spread of more contagious variants of the disease, especially during large-scale gatherings for religious festivals and political rallies.
Even as infections soar, several religious festivals are continuing, including the Kumbh Mela in Haridwar in northern India, which has seen almost five million mostly maskless Hindu pilgrims massing on the banks of the holy Ganges River this week.
Prime Minister Modi has been addressing public rallies in West Bengal for the eight-phase assembly elections in the state, while his national rival Rahul Gandhi cancelled all his public rallies in the wake of the rapid spread of the Covid-19 infection.