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India records over 47,000 coronavirus fatalities

The mounting death toll from India’s coronavirus outbreak may continue to rise for months if the government does not take action to curb infections, a doctor has told the BBC.

India reached a sobering new milestone on Thursday, becoming the country with fourth-highest Covid-19 death toll in the world.

On Thursday, India recorded 942 new deaths and 66,999 new cases – the highest single-day spike in infections yet.

The total number of people who have died from the virus is now put at 47,000.

Dr Srinivas Rajkum, general secretary of the Resident Doctors’ Association in New Delhi, said the situation in India was very serious.

“The daily number of deaths is far ahead of any country in the world as of now and, tragically, this may continue for the next few weeks, if not months,” he said.

He said the Indian government’s strategy for dealing with the outbreak was inadequate, blaming insufficient testing for compounding the crisis.

He said more investment in India’s healthcare system was urgently needed.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, has pledged to sharply increase testing to one million per day.

But can he achieve this, and are the tests being used reliable?

How much testing is India doing now?

At the start of August, around half a million tests were being carried out each day across India on a week’s average, according to the international comparison site, Our World in Data. Daily figures released by the Indian government are slightly higher than this.

This is a large number but should be put in the context of the size of India’s population.

It carries out around 36 tests each day for every 100,000 people. In comparison, the figure for South Africa is 69, for Pakistan it’s eight, and for the United Kingdom it’s 192.

Prime Minister Modi’s ambition is to double this number to achieve a million tests each day for a country with a population of more than 1.3 billion.

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