A health worker collects a nasal swab sample from a man to test for the Covid-19 coronavirus along the roadside on the outskirts of Amritsar (AFP)
India's second Covid-19 wave turned even grimmer on Wednesday as both daily cases and deaths surged to new peaks. The country reported over 4.12 lakh new cases, 10,000 higher than the last peak, while the day's death toll climbed close to the 4,000 mark at 3,980.
India recorded 4,12,784 new cases, by far the highest single-day count in any country so far. This was the second time that the tally breached the 4-lakh mark, after 4,02,351 infections were recorded on April 30.
Alarmingly, the record surge in cases came out of a reduced number of tests conducted the previous day. On Tuesday, testing in the country had dropped to 15.4 lakh, down from 16.6 lakh on the previous day and 4 lakh less than last week's peak of 19.4 lakh tests conducted on April 30.
As a result, the test positivity rate (TPR) for the last three days climbed to 24.4%, more than two percentage points higher than the rate on the same three days last week. TPR is the percentage of total tests that come out positive for the virus. A high TPR indicates higher prevalence of the infection as well as inadequate testing that allows more positive patients to go undetected.
Deaths almost touched the 4,000 mark on Wednesday as at least five major states reported their highest fatalities in a single day. These included UP, where 357 deaths were recorded, Karnataka (346 fatalities), Punjab (182), Haryana (181) and Tamil Nadu (167). The toll in Maharashtra crossed 900 with 920 deaths reported in the last 24 hours.
Meanwhile, active cases in India crossed the 35-lakh mark, with more than 78,000 active cases being added to the tally on Wednesday. With daily cases staying over 3 lakh for 15 days now, recoveries have grown rapidly leading to a relatively lower rise in active cases over the past week.
Amid a massive surge in infections, Karnataka reported 50,112 fresh cases on Wednesday, becoming the second state after Maharashtra to breach the 50,000 milestone in daily cases. Cases rose in Maharashtra as well, with the state recording 57,640 new infections, up from 51,880 on the previous day.
Karnataka was among at least 12 states and UTs that recorded their biggest surge in daily cases. The others were Kerala (41,953 fresh cases), Tamil Nadu (23,310), Bengal (18,102), Punjab (8,015), Uttarakhand (7,783), Assam (4,826), J&K (4,716), Himachal (3,842), Goa (3,496), Puducherry (1,819) and Mizoram (238).