COVID: India overtakes Brazil as world’s second worst-hit country

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India has reported a record 168,912 COVID-19 infections overnight, data from the health ministry showed, overtaking Brazil to become the second-most affected country globally by the coronavirus.

Deaths in India stood at 904, taking the total to 170,179, data showed on Monday.

India’s overall tally reached 13.53 million, while John Hopkins University put the total number of cases in Brazil at 13.48 million. The United States leads the global tally with 31.2 million cases.

India had surpassed Brazil in September last year to become the second-most affected country in the world by cases, but it slipped to third place after seeing a decline in cases until January this year.

The world’s second-most populous country has experienced a sharp rise in cases after several weeks of religious festivals, campaign rallies and lax mask-wearing.

While regional elections are under way in several states, tens of thousands of people have also gathered in northern Uttarakhand state for the Kumbh Mela or Pitcher Festival, a Hindu religious pilgrimage.

The government is desperate to avoid a hugely unpopular second lockdown but many states are tightening the screws.

In worst-hit Maharashtra and its capital Mumbai, restaurants are shut and public gatherings of more than five people are banned.

The health ministry said the surge has led to a “spike in demand” for the antiviral drug remdesivir, forcing the ban on its export despite a World Health Organization-backed study saying it has “little or no effect” on COVID-19 mortality.

Concerns over the side effects and effectiveness of tested and approved vaccines continue to rattle nerves elsewhere.

Source : News Agencies