India recorded 96,424 new coronavirus infections in the last 24 hours, taking its tally to 5.2 million, according to data released by the federal health ministry.
India has been posting the highest single-day caseload in the world since early August, and seems on course to cross the United States as the country with the most number of cases.
Deaths in India have been relatively low, and it has a fatality rate of 1.62%.
On Friday, the health ministry said 1,174 people died of COVID-19 in the last 24 hours, taking total mortalities from the disease to 84,372.
The increase in reported cases has partly to do with increased testing – but the speed at which the virus is spreading is worrying experts.
In the past week, India has recorded more than 90,000 cases and 1,000 deaths every day. Seven states are worst affected – accounting for about 48% of India’s population.
But even as infections soar, India is opening up – workplaces, public transport, eateries, gyms – to try to repair a battered economy suffering its worst slump in decades.
The world’s most draconian lockdown forced people to stay at home, shut businesses and triggered an exodus of millions of informal workers who lost their jobs in the cities and returned home on foot, buses and trains.
But the resumption of economic activity even as cases spiral suggests “lockdown fatigue”.
Infection rate under-reported:
More than 50 million Indians have been tested so far for the virus, and more than a million samples are being tested daily. But the country still has one of the lowest testing rates in the world.
So epidemiologists suggest that India’s real infection rates are far higher.
Bhramar Mukherjee, a professor of biostatistics and epidemiology at the University of Michigan who has been closely tracking the pandemic, says her models point to about 100 million infections in India now.
The government’s own antibody tests on a random sample of people nationwide estimate 6.4 million infections in early May, as compared to the recorded case count of 52,000 around that time.