Over 250,000 people have died
India’s coronavirus cases passed nine million on Friday, as the world’s second-worst-hit country saw hospitals in the capital New Delhi under pressure and graveyards fill up.
India has now registered more than 132,000 deaths, according to the latest official figures, which are widely seen as understating the true scale of the pandemic.
The total number of infections in India is second only to the tally in the United States, which has recorded 11.6 million cases and more than 250,000 deaths.
India, the world’s second-most populous nation, has seen a drop in daily cases over the past month but it is still registering about 45,000 new infections on average every day.
New Delhi, facing the dual scourge of winter pollution and coronavirus, has seen infections soar past half a million with a record rise in daily cases.
On Thursday, the megacity’s government quadrupled fines for not wearing a mask in an effort to get a grip on the outbreak.
At one of Delhi’s largest cemeteries, burial space is fast running out, grave-digger Mohammed Shamim told AFP.
“Initially when the virus broke (out), I thought I’ll bury 100-200 people and it’ll be done. But the current situation is beyond my wildest thoughts,” Shamim said.
“I only have space left for about 50-60 burials. Then what? I have no idea.”
India imposed a stringent lockdown in March but restrictions have been gradually eased as the government seeks to reboot the economy after the loss of millions of jobs.
Experts say this has helped spread the disease, as has a general reluctance to wear masks and maintain physical distancing.
The western city of Ahmedabad, home to six million people, late Thursday announced an indefinite night curfew after an uptick in cases.
“The increase in numbers of cases is a concern, primarily because it is driven by people not following the basic protocol of corona-appropriate behaviour,” said Anand Krishnan, a community medicine professor at Delhi’s All India Institute of Medical Sciences.