NEW DELHI (AP) — India reported another record spike of 95,735 new coronavirus infections in the past 24 hours as the virus spreads beyond its major cities.
According to the Health Ministry, the number of people known to be infected in India reached 4,465,863 on Thursday. It has the second-highest caseload in the world behind the United States, where more than 6.3 million people are known to be infected.
The Health Ministry also reported 1,172 deaths in the past 24 hours, taking total fatalities up to 75,062. Its death toll is third-highest in the world behind the U.S. and Brazil.
The ministry said the surge in new infections is due to ramping of daily testing that exceeds 1 million now. However, experts caution that India’s outbreak is entering a more dangerous phase as the virus spreads to smaller towns and villages.
The Indian capital saw a record surge of 4,618 new cases in the past 24 hours with 19 deaths. New Delhi, Pune, Mumbai and Chennai are the worst-hit cities in the country.
With the economy contracting by a record 23.9% in the April-June quarter, leaving millions jobless, Indian authorities have said they have little choice but to continue reopening the economy.
Meanwhile, the Serum Institute of India maintained that the temporary halt to late-stage studies of AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine candidate would not impact the timeline for vaccine trials in India. The studies in multiple countries were halted because of “potentially unexplained” illness in a British recipient.
Indian authorities said they would review the illness report and assess the information from the initial human clinical trials in India.
Serum, the world’s largest maker of vaccines by volume, is mass-producing the vaccine for low and middle-income countries.