India crossed 20 million reported cases of Covid-19 on Tuesday. There were 357,229 new cases reported over a span of 24 hours, bringing the total to 20.28 million, according to health ministry data. India’s first cases were detected in late January last year and the country’s total did not cross 10 million infections until December, according to Johns Hopkins University data. But the next 10 million cases were reported in the span of just under five months, mostly in April.
So far, at least 222,408 people have died from the disease, but that number is likely lower than the actual death toll. Media reports suggest crematoriums and burial grounds are overwhelmed with bodies of those who died from Covid-19. During the first wave last year, India imposed a strict national lockdown between late-March and May, which derailed the country’s growth trajectory and left millions without a source of income.
While the central government appears reluctant to impose a second nationwide lockdown, several states have stepped up restrictions in recent weeks, including local lockdowns and curfews. That includes Maharashtra, which is India’s worst-hit state, Delhi, West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Karnataka and others. Some health experts have suggested that India needs a national stay-at-home order and a medical emergency declaration to address current health-care needs.
India’s health-care system has been overwhelmed by the sharp rise in cases as it faces a shortage of hospital beds, oxygen supply and medicines to treat patients. India’s second wave began some time in February when cases started rising again. Before that the country reported about 10,000 infections a day, on average. April saw a steep spike in the curve, with nearly 7 million reported cases. The Indian government is facing criticism for letting large crowds gather for religious festivals and election rallies earlier this year. Those mass gatherings likely turned into super spreader events.