As cases reach 1 million in worst-hit Asian nation, pacesetter US sees record rise
India on Friday became the third country to record 1 million coronavirus cases, trailing the United States and Brazil where infections also continued to surge.
The virus has killed more than 580,000 people and infected nearly 14 million around the world since first being detected late last year, according to figures from the World Health Organization.
But, despite extraordinary restrictions on people traveling that have crippled the global economy, the pandemic is worsening in many parts of the world.
India’s surpassing of 1 million infections came a day after confirmed cases in Brazil topped 2 million.
With more than 600 people dying daily in India, lockdowns have been reimposed on millions of people across the country.
India’s main hot spots had previously been the megacities of Mumbai and New Delhi, but smaller cities and rural areas－where 70 percent of Indians live－have recently begun to raise the alarm.
The coastal tourist region of Goa on Thursday evening became the latest Indian state to go under lockdown, imposing a three-day shutdown and a night-time curfew until Aug 10.
With per capita spending on healthcare among the lowest in the world, India’s hospitals are reeling.
“The fear of catching the infection is very real as I am in a high-risk zone almost round the clock,” said Showkat Nazir Wani, a doctor working in an intensive care unit in Sharda Hospital, just outside New Delhi.
“It’s not going to go away till a vaccine comes…. I have to keep fighting and trying to save every single life.”
Rahul Gandhi, leader of the opposition Congress party, urged Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to take concrete steps to contain the pandemic, tweeting that the number of infections will double to 2 million by Aug 10 at this pace.
Epidemiologists say India is still likely months from hitting its peak.
“In the coming months, we are bound to see more and more cases, and that is the natural progression of any pandemic,” said Giridhar Babu, epidemiologist at the nonprofit Public Health Foundation of India.
3.5 million infections
The US reported a record high of more than 77,000 new cases on Thursday, bringing the total number of infections to 3,560,364, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University.
The mounting novel coronavirus outbreak in the country saw 39 states report increases in the number of new cases on Thursday, with California, Texas, Florida and Arizona the hottest of the hot spots. Johns Hopkins University reported more than 138,000 people had died of COVID-19 in the US as of Thursday.
Cameron and Hidalgo counties in Texas are sharing a large refrigerated trailer to store bodies of COVID-19 victims because of a lack of space at the morgues.
“I’m pleading with everybody in our neck of the woods, help us do your part. People’s lives are at stake－not just the people getting sick but doctors, nurses working to the bone, EMS personnel transporting people,” Cameron County Judge Eddie Trevino Jr told CNN affiliate network KVEO.
Meanwhile, more than 40 states have mandates on face coverings in public. Arkansas and Colorado issued face-covering orders on Thursday, and more businesses started to require face masks, including CVS, Kroger and Target.
White House spokeswoman Kayleigh McEnany said on Thursday that President Donald Trump still wants US schools to reopen this fall in full, with “kids being able to attend each and every day at their school”.
“The science should not stand in the way of this,” she said, adding that it is “perfectly safe” to fully reopen all classrooms.
In Melbourne, Australia’s second-biggest city, a second wave has continued to worsen despite the reimposition of a lockdown. A daily record of 423 new cases were confirmed on Friday.