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India's COVID-19 tally crosses 1.16 lakh; govt says mortality rate less than half of global average

India’s COVID-19 tally crossed 1.16 lakh on Thursday with more than half of it getting reported in just about a fortnight amid large-scale movement of migrants in special trains and arrival of stranded Indians and expatriates from abroad. The government, however, stressed that the mortality rate in India has remained less than half of the global average of 6.65 per cent.

The nationwide death toll due to the deadly virus infection has neared 3,500 with a mortality rate of about 3 per cent, while more than 47,000 have recovered so far. At least 15 other countries have recorded more deaths than India so far. However, India’s tally of active cases at over 65,000 is now the fifth largest in the world after the US, Russia, Brazil and France.

While India is the 11th worst-hit in terms of the number of overall cases detected so far, some of the 10 most affected countries now have fewer active cases than India and those include Spain, Italy, Germany, Turkey and Iran. In its morning 8 am update, the Union Health Ministry said the death toll due to COVID-19 has risen to 3,435 and the number of confirmed cases to 1,12,359 in the country, registering an increase of 132 deaths and 5,609 cases in the last 24 hours. It put the number of active cases at 63,624 and recoveries at over 45,000.

However, a PTI tally of figures announced by different states and union territories, as of 9.30 PM, showed a higher number of confirmed cases at 1,16,295 and the death toll at 3,494. It showed an increase of 5,705 cases and 139 fatalities since Wednesday evening, while recoveries also rose during this period by more than 2,700 to 47,487. More than half of this cumulative number of confirmed cases have been reported since May 8 -- the day when the morning update by the Union Health Ministry had put the number of confirmed cases at 56,342.

India reported its first COVID-19 case on January 30, while the 100-mark was reached 45 days later on March 15. However, the 1,000-mark was reached much faster on March 29 and the 10,000-mark was breached on April 13. The 50,000-mark was breached on May 6, while it took less than two weeks for the next 50,000 cases with the one-lakh mark being reached on May 18. Globally, more than 50 lakh people have tested positive for the deadly virus infection since its emergence in China last December, while nearly 3.3 lakh have lost their lives. More than 19 lakh people have recovered so far.

The government officials have said that the time taken in India for the case count to move from 100 to one lakh has been much better at 64 days, which was better than many other badly-hit countries and actually double the time taken in the US and Spain. In a statement, the Union Health Ministry said timely case identification and proper clinical management have helped India keep its mortality rate lower.

It also said that more than 3,000 people have been cured in the last 24 hours itself and the overall recovery rate is improving continuously and has crossed 40 per cent now. The Ministry said all patients are under active medical supervision, while around 2.94 per cent of all active cases in ICU.

The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) said there has been a 1000-fold increase in the number of COVID-19 tests done per day in the last two months. More than 25 lakh tests have been done so far. A noted public health expert and epidemiologist, however, cautioned that India may witness COVID-19 cases peaking in mid-July if the current lockdown is lifted this month-end, but also hoped that there could be a “lower surge” in the wake of strong containment measures taken in the past two months.

“If the lockdown is lifted on May 30, then we will have peak around mid-July because if you take three incubations period, which is one-and-half months, that will be enough for you to know how the disease spreads when nothing is controlled,” Giridhara R Babu, Professor and Head of Life Course Epidemiology at the Public Health Foundation of India, told PTI. Several states and UTs continued to report new cases, with the national capital itself recording the highest single-day spike of 571 fresh cases to take its total to 11,659. This was the third consecutive day when 500 or more fresh cases have been reported in a day in Delhi.

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