India reports the highest global increase in daily cases

Family members sit on benches next to a funeral pyre of a Covid-19 victim at 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 highest daily increase in the number of cases worldwide since the start of the pandemic.

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

The grim numbers come as healthcare and other essential services across India are on the verge of collapse amid a second wave of coronavirus sweeping across the country at devastating speed.

Delhi’s Union Territory received less than half of the oxygen needed to treat Covid-19 patients on Wednesday, with 200-250 tons of oxygen at a requirement of 700 tons, the Delhi government lawyer told the Supreme Court on Wednesday.

A petition from the Bajaj Medical and Research Center, which runs a chain of private hospitals, says that five of its hospitals in Delhi have between two and 18 hours of oxygen supply.

While the court considered the petition, two of the five private hospitals referred to in the petition had received the supply of oxygen, the court noted.

According to government data, Delhi had 26 empty IC beds on Thursday afternoon.

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

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

The new rules will take effect on Thursday at 8:00 pm local time and will remain in effect until May 1 at 7:00 am.

According to the Indian Ministry of Health, India had now registered a total of 15,930,965 cases. The total death toll now stands at 184,657.

Some context: India’s population is nearly four times that of the United States, and the number of daily cases still lags behind the US when adjusted for population size (in cases per million people). But the outbreak in India is undoubtedly the world’s largest in absolute numbers right now – nearly 28% of all new cases worldwide in the past week came from India, the World Health Organization said Wednesday.