NEW DELHI: Coronavirus cases in India reached 100,000 on Tuesday (May 19), matching the number of intensive care unit beds in the country, while the rate of new infections showed little sign of slowing.
India reported 4,970 new cases over the past 24 hours, taking the total from the outbreak to 101,139. Deaths rose by 134 to 3,163.
The number of Indian cases has easily outstripped China, where the virus originated late last year and which has been one of the infection hotspots in Asia.
China has reported just under 83,000 COVID-19 cases, but has kept the daily rise in new infections to single digits for the past week. In contrast, new cases in India continued to rise by an average of more than 4,000 each day over the past week, according to a Reuters tally based on official data, despite a severe weeks-long lockdown.
India officially extended that lockdown on Sunday to May 31, although several states indicated they would allow businesses to reopen.
Health experts and officials are worried about the strain the epidemic is placing on India’s over-stretched and under-funded hospital system.
Dhruva Chaudhry, president of the Indian Society of Critical Care Medicine, told Reuters last month that India probably has only around 100,000 ICU beds and 40,000 ventilators, based on industry estimates and other data.
Chaudhry warned there was not enough infrastructure or staff in the country of 1.35 billion people to handle a sharp spike in the number of critical patients.
India has not provided a detailed breakdown on the condition of people who have been diagnosed with COVID-19, although authorities have reported that around 37,000 people have recovered from the illness.
The infections have been concentrated in the big metropolises of Mumbai, Delhi, Ahmedabad and Chennai.
Still, India’s death rate remains below that of other large nations. Its mortality rate for those with the disease is three per cent, compared with six per cent for the US where around 89,000 people have died, 14 per cent for the UK and Italy and 15 per cent for France.