India set to top global coronavirus cases tally as Covid infections pass seven million

People wear masks in a market in Jammu, India
India has the second-highest number of coronavirus cases worldwide. Credit: AP

By Sanjay Jha, ITV News, Delhi

More than seven million people have tested positive for Covid-19 in India, with one million new cases reported in the last 13 days.

It's feared many more have developed coronavirus but have not been tested for the respiratory disease.

The increase in cases in the world's second most populous country, means India has the second highest number of Covid cases behind the US's 7.7 million.

However, coronavirus cases in India are expected to surpass those of the United States in the coming days, due to the current growth-rate.

Health experts are warning the alarming rise in cases is due to the non-adherence of social distancing and people not wearing face mask in public places.

As per data released on Sunday by India’s Health department, the country registered another 74,383 infections in the past 24 hours with 918 additional deaths, taking the total number of fatalities to 108,334.

India is carrying out one million coronavirus tests per day. Credit: AP

Despite the high number of infections in India, mortality rates have remained relatively low.

“We have been able to keep the curve rise slow, but I do agree that we have not been able to get it to move aggressively down.

"That’s related to our population density, diversity of our country and socioeconomic challenges in our country,” Dr Randeep Guleria, Director of India’s leading hospital in New Delhi said.

India saw a steep rise in cases in July and added more than two million in August and another three million in September.

But the country has seen a slower pace of coronavirus spread since mid-September, when the daily infections touched a record high of 97,894.

So far in October, India has been averaging more than 70,000 cases daily.

India has a high recovery rate of 85% with active cases below one million, according to the Health Ministry.

Health officials have warned about the potential for the virus to spread during the upcoming religious festival season, which is marked by huge gatherings in temples and shopping districts.

India is testing more than one million samples per day, exceeding the World Health Organization’s benchmark of 140 tests per one million people.

But many of these are antigen tests, which look for virus proteins and are faster but less accurate than RT-PCR, which confirm the coronavirus by its genetic code.