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India report record number of COVID deaths as bodies drift down Ganges

Published on 12/05/21 at 11:24am
Indian flag against a setting sun
Image Credit: Pexels/Still Pixels

India yesterday reported the country’s highest COVID-19 death total for a single day, with 4,205 fatalities officially confirmed.

The figures from yesterday have pushed India’s rolling 7-day coronavirus death average above 4,000 for the first time, with the figure currently on 4,001 and set to rise even further.

They also mean that the number of deaths in the country related to the virus have now reached quarter of a million.

There are also several reports that the official death total is being grossly underreported, with Indian newspapers taking it upon themselves to report more accurate numbers. The Gujarati-language newspaper Sandesh print their own daily total, normally significantly higher than the government figure.

As reported by the BBC, the newspaper counted 83 deaths in the city of Vadodara on May 5, whereas the official figure was just 13.

WHO have said that India now accounts for around 30% of all COVID-related deaths worldwide, in their weekly report on the virus.

More than 348,000 new cases were also reported yesterday, with the peak in cases so far coming last week, when 414,188 infections were confirmed on May 6. 

The crisis has become so critical that dead bodies have even reportedly been seen floating down the river Ganges in two different states. This is in part due to rural parts of India no longer having enough wood for cremations, meaning the relatives of the dead choose to immerse bodies in the supposedly holy water of the river.

Virologist Shahid Jameel told the Indian Express newspaper: ”We seem to be plateauing around 400,000 cases a day.

”It is still too early to say whether we have reached the peak.”

India, with its population of 1.4 billion, has so far given out 174 million doses of two COVID-19 vaccines - the Oxford-AstraZeneca jab, and the local Bharat Biotech Covaxin shot. 37.3 million people are fully vaccinated – just 2.7% of the whole country. 

India is the biggest manufacturer of COVID-19 vaccines in the world, and has now paused its export of jabs to help with its own crisis. It is expected that this will cause a knock-on effect in other countries around the world who were previously reliant on supplies from India.

Jack Goddard


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