Covid: India reports new record number of coronavirus cases and deaths as more than 2,000 fatalities recorded in a day

India Covid dead bodies
More than 2,000 people have died of Covid in a single day in India. Credit: AP

India has again reported new record numbers of Covid-19 cases and deaths, with the country passing the threshold of 2,000 fatalities in a single day for the first time.

Also on Wednesday, India recorded 295,041 coronavirus cases.

Covid deaths in the Asian nation have increased by more than 500% in a single month.

On Monday, ITV News spoke to doctors in the country who said a new variant, which has also been detected in the UK, is damaging patients' lungs more quickly than the last - and is spreading faster.

'This mutant virus is affecting and damaging lungs at a much faster rate.'

According to the latest update from Public Health England, 77 confirmed cases of the B.1.617 variant, which was first discovered in India, have been detected in the UK.

Officials in the UK have designated it a "variant under investigation" and PHE said there is currently no evidence to suggest that disease from the newly identified variant is more serious than previous ones, nor is there current evidence to suggest vaccines are less likely to work against it.

However, doctors working in Mumbai, the country's largest city, have warned hospitals could face oxygen shortages imminently if the virus continues to spread so aggressively.

Dr Akshay Yadav told ITV News: "Compared to the last wave, this mutant virus is affecting and damaging lungs at a much faster rate.

"And the rapidity with which this virus is spreading is faster compared to the last wave.

"Definitely the number of people requiring oxygen has increased drastically. If we don't stop the virus this month, definitely we might see shortages of oxygen in the next month."

The variant hasn't just hit older patients, or those with pre-existing health conditions.

"The virus is not like the previous one," Dr Yadav warned.

"The number of youngsters getting infected is much higher, and the intensity with which they are getting affected is much more drastic."

On Monday, ITV News reported on soaring Covid cases in India and witnesses hospitals unable to cope

As new highs of cases and deaths keep being recorded, Professor K Srinath Reddy, president of India's Public Health Foundation warned the country has "not seen the worst yet" with numbers likely to rise further.

The worsening situation has prompted Boris Johnson to cancel his trip to the country next week, while India has been added to the UK's travel "red list".

Even with hospitals struggling, Prime Minister Narendra Modi advised state governments against imposing a harsh lockdown, backing instead the ability of the country's vaccination programme to combat the crisis.

Mr Modi has instead advocated micro-containment zones in a bid to avoid another economic slump.

On Monday, the India government announced all over-18s would be eligible for a vaccine from May 1, with Mr Modi saying: "Vaccination is the biggest weapon in the fight against coronavirus."

The surge in India has exacerbated the slowdown in global vaccination campaigns.

India is a major vaccine producer but was forced to delay deliveries of shots to focus on its domestic demand.

So far, India has administered more than 130 million doses of vaccines in a nation of nearly 1.4 billion since mid-January.

Overall, India has reported more than 15.6 million confirmed cases, the second highest behind the United States. The official number of deaths stands at 182,553, however there are fears the true number could be much higher.

Meanwhile, 22 Covid patients died at a hospital in Maharashtra, the worst-hit state by the latest coronavirus surge, after their oxygen supply was interrupted by a leakage in a supply line, officials said.

Suraj Mandhar, the district collector, said the oxygen supply has since been resumed to other patients, in the Zakir Hussain Hospital in Nashik.

Fire officer Sanjay Bairagi said the leakage was plugged by the fire service within 15 minutes, but there was supply disruption.

Police officer Surinder Sonone said the leak occurred in a pipe connecting the oxygen supply to the main tank in the hospital complex.

Five of the 140 Covid-19 patients were shifted to another hospital, he added.

The state government ordered an investigation of the leak, state health minister Rajesh Tope said.