India set to overtake US as country worst hit by coronavirus within weeks

Indians wearing face masks as a precaution walk in a market area in Jammu Credit: AP/Press Association Images

India has registered 92,605 new coronavirus cases in the past 24 hours and is expected to surpass the United States as the pandemic’s worst-hit country within weeks.

The health ministry also reported 1,133 additional deaths for a total of 86,752.

Sunday’s surge raised the country’s virus tally to more than 5.4 million. India, however, also has the highest number of recovered patients in the world, according to Johns Hopkins University. Its recovery rate stands at about 80%.

Over 60% of the active cases are concentrated in five of India’s 28 states — Maharashtra, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Uttar Pradesh.

The total number of cases in the US is 6.7 million.

Covid testing during a door-to-door visit in Gauhati, India Credit: Anupam Nath/AP

Prime minister Narendra Modi’s government has faced scathing criticism for its handling of the pandemic amid a contracting economy that left millions jobless.

Meanwhile, Australia’s second-largest city, Melbourne, has moved close to easing severe lockdown restrictions after recording only 14 new Covid-19 cases on Sunday.

It was the second day in a row new infections fell below 30. There were also five deaths recorded on Sunday.

(PA Graphics) Credit: PA Graphics

Melbourne’s lockdown restrictions are due to be eased next weekend when childcare centres will be allowed to reopen and gatherings of up to five people from two different households will be permitted. But that depends on the rolling 14-day average of new cases being below 50. It now stands at 36.2.

Victoria state health minister Jenny Mikakos praised residents for adhering to lockdown rules, saying: “The huge sacrifices made by Victorians are saving many lives.”

Australian prime minister Scott Morrison described an unexpected fall in Australia’s unemployment rate to 9.3% – down 14 percentage points from its peak during the pandemic – as “pleasant encouragement”.

The figures show about 400,000 Australians have recently returned to work.