India”s official count of coronavirus cases topped 20 million Tuesday, nearly doubling in the past three months, while deaths officially have passed 220,000.
The true figures are believed to be far higher, the undercount an apparent reflection of the troubles in the health care system.
Municipal records for this past Sunday show 1,680 dead in the Indian capital were treated according to the procedures for handing the bodies of those infected with COVID-19. But in the same 24-hour period, only 407 deaths were added to the official toll from New Delhi.
The country has witnessed scenes of people dying outside overwhelmed hospitals and funeral pyres lighting up the night sky.
People are dying because of shortages of bottled oxygen and hospital beds or because they couldn’t get a COVID-19 test.
Infections have surged in India since February, fueled by more contagious variants of the virus as well as government decisions to allow massive crowds to gather for Hindu religious festivals and political rallies before state elections.
India’s official average of newly confirmed cases per day has soared from over 65,000 on April 1 to about 370,000, and deaths per day have officially gone from over 300 to more than 3,000.
On Tuesday, the health ministry reported 357,229 new cases in the past 24 hours and 3,449 deaths from COVID-19.
The New Delhi High Court announced it will start punishing government officials if supplies of oxygen allocated to hospitals are not delivered. “Enough is enough,” it said.
India, the world’s largest maker of vaccines is short of shots as a result of lagging manufacturing and raw material shortages.
Experts are also worried the prices being charged for shots will make it harder for the poor to get vaccinated. On Monday, opposition parties urged the government to make vaccinations free to all Indians.