The death toll from the novel coronavirus pandemic in India has surpassed 20,000 amid huge daily spikes in infections as the country introduces further relaxations to its protracted lockdown.
“A total of 22,452 fresh cases and 467 deaths in the last 24 hours pushed the caseload in the country to 719,665 and the death count to 20,160,’’ data from the Federal Health Ministry showed on Tuesday.
The rate of new infections as well as deaths has been rising at the fastest pace after India started easing its lockdown since mid-May, with resumption of domestic flights and train services and reopening of offices and marketplaces.
Authorities reopened major monuments across India for visitors from Monday.
However, the world-famous Taj Mahal remained closed.
Government data shows that while India reached its first 100,000 infections in 110 days by May 19, the last 100,000 infections were recorded in merely six days from July 2.
On Monday, India had surpassed Russia as the country with the third-highest coronavirus caseload in the world.
India is now behind the U.S. and Brazil; however, it has relatively fewer fatalities.
It is ranked at number eight globally behind the U.S., Brazil, Britain, Italy, Mexico, France and Spain.
Health officials said the number of deaths could rise significantly in the coming weeks with the record rise in infections.
The western state of Maharashtra, which has the country’s financial hub of Mumbai as its regional capital, is the worst-hit by the pandemic in India, with 211,987 infections and 9,026 deaths.
National capital, New Delhi, is also among the epicentres, reporting 100,823 infections and 3,115 deaths.