India’s daily COVID-19 deaths close to 4,000, according to WHO

© Reuters. Medics care for a man with breathing problems in a COVID-19 unit of a government-run hospital amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic in Bijnor District, Uttar Pradesh, India, May 11, 2021. REUTERS / Danish Siddiqui

From Manas Mishra and Swati Bhat

MUMBAI (Reuters) – India reported a smaller spike in daily coronavirus infections on Saturday, but deaths remained near the 4,000 mark, with the World Health Organization warning that the second year of the pandemic could be worse than the first.

In the past 24 hours, India had 326,098 new coronavirus infections for the lowest increase in nearly three weeks, bringing the total to 24.37 million and 3,890 deaths.

However, the slow growth could reflect lower test rates, which are their lowest since May 9th.

In Geneva, the head of the World Health Organization said the second year of the pandemic was more deadly than the first and that India was a big problem.

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus’ remarks at an online meeting Friday came after Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi sounded the alarm about the rapid spread of the disease across the countryside.

In the past week, the South Asian nation added about 1.7 million new cases and more than 20,000 deaths. According to the Ministry of Health, the death toll is 266,207.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said his country would speed up its vaccination program to try to contain a rapidly spreading Indian variant that could derail the reopening of the UK economy.

Johnson’s comments came shortly after India accepted a government panel recommendation for an extended interval of 12 to 16 weeks between first and second doses of the AstraZeneca (NASDAQ 🙂 vaccine, now six to eight weeks.

In states like the richest state of Maharashtra and the northern state of Delhi, cases have steadily declined after imposing severe bans.

But the eastern state of West Bengal, which recently held elections, saw its largest surge in a day, suggesting that a decline in the total number of cases could take a while.

Infections in Modi’s western home state of Gujarat fell below 10,000 after four consecutive weeks, but officials warned of easing the curbs until they returned to levels prior to India’s second wave outbreak in mid-February.

(Global vaccination tracker: https://graphics.reuters.com/world-coronavirus-tracker-and-maps/vaccination-rollout-and-access)

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