India surges past one million Covid-19 cases with record one-day spike

Alarm over new coronavirus outbreaks as India cases hit one million Credit: AP

By Sanjay Jha in Delhi

India has recorded more than one million Covid-19 cases after a record one-day spike.

Rising infection rates in rural areas are pushing authorities to reinstate lockdowns across several states.

In the last 24 hours, India added 34,956 new coronavirus cases, taking the nationwide total to 1,003,832, according to the India’s Health Ministry.

India's journey from half a million to one million cases has taken just 20 days.

Only the United States and Brazil have more cases than India and there is no sign yet of the curve flattening.

India’s testing rate is also among the lowest in the world in relation to its huge population.

“The virus has established in the country, and while the number could be one million now, it has already infected several millions and many of them would have also recovered by now,” said Dr. Jayaprakash Muliyil, one of India's leading epidemiologists and chairman of the scientific committee of the National Institute of Epidemiology to Indian news network BloobergQuint.

This inevitable surge could overburden hospitals and test the country’s weak health care system.

A health worker takes a nasal swab sample of a woman at an urban health centre in Ahmedabad, India Credit: Ajit Solanki/AP

More than half of the cases are concentrated in three states, Maharashtra, Delhi and Tamil Nadu with numbers spiralling in rural areas with poor healthcare system fuelled by migrant workers returning from the cities after they lost their jobs due to the pandemic.

Many of Indian states are imposing focused lockdowns to stem the outbreak amid frantic efforts by local governments to protect the economy.

Local government has imposed a 15-day lockdown in the eastern state of Bihar, allowing only essentials services.

All schools, clubs, temples and non-essential businesses have been closed . 

After almost four months, India has begun a limited number of international flights by establishing 'air bubbles' with the US, Germany and France.

On Friday, American carrier United Airlines will be flying 18 flights between India and the US till July 31.

India is planning to establish a bubble with the UK soon which would establish two flights a day between Delhi and London.