Number of deaths from Covid-19 in India passes 100,000
India has passed a grim milestone in its fight against coronavirus, with health authorities saying the country has recorded more than 100,000 virus-related deaths.
The announcement from the Health Ministry means nearly 10% of more than a million people to die globally in the pandemic have done so in India, behind only the US and Brazil.
India has seen more than 6.4 million confirmed infections, recording more than 79,000 new cases in the past 24 hours.
Prime minister Narendra Modi and his government are facing criticism for failing to stop the march of the virus, which in September hit India harder than any other nation in the world.
Almost 41% of India’s total infections and 34% of Covid-19 deaths were reported in September, with an average of nearly 1,100 Indians dying each day.
As in many countries, Mr Modi and his government have struggled with how to balance virus restrictions with the the need to boost a contracting economy in which millions are newly jobless.
Experts say 100,000 is likely to be an undercount. They say many deaths may have been attributed to other causes, especially in the early days of the pandemic when testing was low in a country with a population of 1.4 billion.
“India’s fatalities numbers don’t reflect the true extent of the damage the virus has done,” said Dr T Jacob John, a retired virologist.
India’s first Covid-19 death was reported on March 12. Over the next five months, the disease killed 50,000 people. It took just 45 more days for that number to double, underscoring the severity of a pandemic that has swamped intensive care units and morgues and also contributed to the deaths of medical professionals.
The Indian Medical Association on Friday said at least 500 doctors have died of coronavirus, adding the toll could be far higher.
The association last month accused the government of “indifference” after it said there was no complete data on the number of frontline health care workers who had contracted the virus and died.