India reports biggest worldwide increase in daily cases

Family members sit on benches near a pyre of a Covid-19 victim at the Nigambodh Ghat Crematorium in New Delhi, India, in the early hours of Thursday, April 22.
Family members sit on benches beside a pyre of a Covid-19 victim at the Nigambodh Ghat Crematorium in New Delhi, India, in the early hours of Thursday, April 22. Sajjad Hussain / AFP / Getty Images

India reported 314,835 new Covid-19 infections on Thursday, the biggest daily increase in cases worldwide since the pandemic began.

The country also recorded the highest number of new deaths from Covid-19, with 2,104 deaths.

The striking numbers appear at a time when health care and other essential services across India are close to collapse amid a second wave of coronavirus that is devastating the country with devastating speed.

The Union Territory of Delhi received on Wednesday less than half the oxygen needed to treat Covid-19 patients, with 200-250 metric tons of oxygen against the need for 700 metric tons, the Delhi government defender told the court higher on Wednesday.

A petition from the Bajaj Medical and Research Center, which runs a network of private hospitals, said five of its hospitals in Delhi had between two and 18 hours of oxygen supply.

While the court was hearing the petition, two of the five private hospitals mentioned in the petition received oxygen supplies, the court noted.

As of Thursday afternoon, Delhi had 26 vacant ICU beds, according to government data.

Several Indian states have imposed restrictions to curb the spread of the virus, even when Prime Minister Narendra Modi urged states to use the blockade as a last resort.

India’s second most populous state, Maharashtra, announced new restrictions on Wednesday. People will be allowed to travel only for essential services or for “unavoidable events” such as funerals. All private passenger transport will be able to operate at 50% of capacity.

The new rules will take effect at 8 pm local time on Thursday and will remain in effect until 7 am on May 1.

India has already registered a total of 15,930,965 cases as of Thursday, according to India’s Ministry of Health. The total death toll now stands at 184,657.

Some context: India’s population is almost four times that of the United States, and its daily cases still lag behind the USA when adjusted for population size (in cases per million people). But the outbreak in India is arguably the largest in the world in absolute numbers at the moment – almost 28% of all new cases in the world last week came from India, the World Health Organization said on Wednesday.