India has suffered the highest Covid death toll of any country at any time since the pandemic began.
A total of 4,529 fatalities linked to the virus were recorded in the last 24 hours, bringing the country’s devastating total to 283,248.
The spike has been attributed to the virus’ rapid spread through rural areas with weak access to healthcare and less awareness of symptoms.
Record-keeping difficulties in India’s vast countryside mean the real total is almost certainly higher.
Murad Banaji, a mathematician modelling India’s cases, said: ‘The national story hid what was going on in rural India and it continues to be fairly invisible.’
A health awareness group based in Uttar Pradesh, the country’s most populous state, said many in rural areas are dying with severe symptoms even before getting tested.
Raja Bhaiya, spokesperson of the non-profit Vidya Dham Samiti, said: ‘The villagers often ignore fever and body ache. Before the relatives can understand what is happening, the patient dies.
‘The only testimony of death in the village is the cries of women and children, and these cries are very frequent now.’
Thousands of bodies recovered from the river Ganges in recent weeks are reportedly Covid victims from villages where people cannot afford to cremate them in line with Hindu custom.
Crematoriums in some areas are said to have started running out of wood.
India’s death toll breaks the record set by the US on January 12, when 4,475 people were recorded to have died with Covid.
America has still suffered a considerably higher number of total deaths with 587,000.
India’s health ministry also reported 267,334 new infections in the past 24 hours, bringing the total to 25 million.
Experts believe daily cases are finally starting to fall consistently, although deaths and hospitalisations are still on a firm upward trend.
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