India overtakes Brazil as country second-worst-hit by COVID-19

India’s 4.2 million cases are behind the US, still the worst-affected country with more than 6 million cases.

India coronavirus
Deaths in India have been relatively low so far, but it has posted more than 1,000 deaths for each of the last five days [File: Adnan Abidi/Reuters]

India’s coronavirus infections have surged past 4.2 million on Monday as it overtook Brazil to become the country with the second-highest number of cases.

With 4,204,613 infections, the country has nearly 70,000 cases more than Brazil, which will post its most recent numbers later on Monday.

India, with a daily record of 90,802 new cases recorded on Monday, also has the fastest-growing caseload. The United States, with more than 6 million cases, remains the worst-affected country.

Deaths in India have been relatively low so far, but it has posted more than 1,000 deaths for each of the last five days.

On Monday, India’s health ministry said 1,016 people died of COVID-19, taking total mortalities to 71,642.

Menawhile, The Delhi Metro transit system that serves India’s sprawling capital New Delhi and adjoining areas resumed operations on Monday after five months. 

“Despite India recording more cases [daily basis] than any other country in the world, the easing of restrictions are set to continue,” Al Jazeera’s Elizabeth Puranam reported from New Delhi said.

“That is also despite the fact the serological tests that look for [coronavirus] antibodies and independent health experts say that the real number of cases are many times the confirmed number,” she added.

COVID-19 outbreak is worsening malnutrition in India

Puranam said later this week bars are re-opening in Delhi as well, similar to other states like Karnataka. 

“The message from the Indian government has been that Indians must live with the coronavirus but taking all the precautions.”

The capital’s metro train network is India’s largest rapid transport system. Before closing down in March, the packed trains carried an average of 2.6 million passengers daily.

The reopening comes after India’s economy shrank faster than any other major nation’s, nearly 24 percent in the last quarter.

Puranam reported the reopening is being done “in a very phased manner” – with limited lines and limited times, including restrictions such as wearing masks and social distancing. 

“People are only allowed to sit on alternate seats.,” she added.

“The reopening has been a huge relief. People have told us they are really happy to catch the metro to work,” Puranam noted.

Economic woes

India’s economic pain dates to the demonetisation of the nation’s currency in 2016 and a hasty rollout of a goods and services tax the next year.

But the harsh virus lockdown that started on March 24 further exacerbated the country’s economic woes.

When Prime Minister Narendra Modi ordered 1.4 billion Indians to stay indoors, the whole economy shut down within four hours.

Millions lost their jobs instantly and tens and thousands of migrant workers, out of money and fearing starvation, poured out of cities and headed back to villages.

The unprecedented migration not only hollowed out India’s economy but also spread the virus to the far reaches of the country.

Source: Al Jazeera, News Agencies