India’s second wave of COVID-19 is currently reported as the world’s worst ongoing coronavirus outbreak, according to CNN. With over two million tests being performed per day, the country is reporting almost 300,000 new infections a day – a positivity rate of 15 percent. And health care officials don’t think they’re catching even a fraction of the actual cases.
“Last year we estimated that only one in about 30 infections were being caught by testing, so the reported cases are a serious underestimate of true infections,” said Ramanan Laxminarayan, director of the Center for Disease Dynamics in New Delhi. “This time, the mortality figures are probably serious underestimates, and what we’re seeing on the ground is many more deaths than what has been officially reported.”
Last fall, India was celebrating their falling numbers and low death rates. But the lifting of restrictions led directly to the current crisis of the second wave.
Prediction models anticipate the current daily death toll to climb until mid-May, when it could reach over 13,000 deaths per day, more than four times the current known death toll. With hospitals so full that COVID patients are dying on the sidewalks outside, it will be years until accurate death counts can be reported, if ever. There is no existing law requiring the reporting of infectious disease deaths in India.
As of Wednesday, April 28, India reports over 200,000 coronavirus deaths, but experts believe those are dramatically under-reported already, and that the real number is closer to 900,000. Parks in New Delhi are being turned into mass crematoriums, with stark images.
In response to the second wave, Indian states are beginning to impose severe restrictions again, such as curfews and weekend lockdowns. India is requesting aid from other countries, especially health care workers.
“I don’t think any family has been spared a COVID death,” said Laxminarayan. “There’s a missing person in every family that I can think of.”
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