India surpasses 5 million virus cases

By AAP Newswire

India's confirmed coronavirus case total has crossed 5 million and still soaring and testing the country's feeble health care system in tens of thousands of impoverished towns and villages.

The Health Ministry reported 90,123 new cases for the previous 24 hours on Wednesday, raising the nation's confirmed total to 5,020,359, about 0.35 per cent of its nearly 1.4 billion population.

It said 1290 more people died, for a total of 82,066.

India's total coronavirus caseload is closing on the United States' highest tally of more than 6.6 million cases and expected to surpass it within weeks.

It reported a record daily high of 97,570 cases on September 11 and has added more than 1 million this month.

Experts warn the fatality rate could increase in coming weeks with lockdown restrictions relaxed except in high-risk areas.

But authorities have ruled out a second countrywide lockdown with recoveries growing at more than 78 per cent.

India's fatality rate is 1.6 per cent, far lower than 3 per cent each in the United States and Brazil, according to the Johns Hopkins Medicine and University.

Dr Gagandeep Kang, an infectious diseases expert from Christian Medical College in the southern state of Vellore, said the number of cases increasing was inevitable.

But the country still had the opportunity to try and restrict cases through a strategy of testing and isolating affected places.

She said "the goal was for India to do enough testing to bring down test positivity rate or fraction of tests that test positive to less than 5 per cent or even less than 1 per cent".

Most of India's deaths are concentrated in its large cities - Mumbai, Delhi, Bengaluru, Chennai and Pune.

But smaller urban centers in Mahrashtra like Nagpur or Jalgaon have also reported more than 1000 deaths.

Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan says only about 6 per cent of patients in India are on oxygen.