EFENew Delhi

India Friday added a new high of more than 380,000 coronavirus infections as the health crisis spiraled due to the lack of adequate medical supplies and oxygen in overwhelmed hospitals.

The federal health ministry data showed that 386,452 new infections were reported in the last 24 hours from Thursday morning, bringing the overall caseload to more than 18.7 million since the pandemic began.

India remains the second hardest-hit nation by the virus, behind the United States that has 33 million infections.

The death toll in the second-most populous country increased to 208,330 after the virus claimed 3,498 lives over the past day.

It is marginally fewer than the previous daily death count of over 3,600 reported on Thursday.

But there are widespread speculations that the government is underreporting the Covid-19 figures.

India is at the global epicenter of the pandemic that is rapidly tightening its grip on the country, with nearly 2.5 million cases added in the last seven days.

The daily death rate has almost tripled in the past three weeks, exceeding 3,000 for the first time in the past few days.

The positivity rate has increased to nearly 21 percent, which a month ago was below 6 percent.

The World Health Organization (WHO) considers that the pandemic is under control in a country if the positivity rate is below 5 percent.

The rapid surge in cases strained its already weak health infrastructure as hospitals are overwhelmed with an increasing number of patients amid a shortage of beds, medicines, and oxygen.

Experts blame the deadly spike on a more contagious virus variant, called double-mutant, and massive political and religious gatherings over the last few months.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Home Minister, and other politicians have drawn flak for showing little or no regard to social distancing and Covid-19 rules in holding mass election rallies for regional polls in various parts of the country.

The last phase of the staggered state assembly elections was held on Thursday when millions voted in West Bengal, again showing no respect for any covid-appropriate behavior.

Similarly, millions of Hindus, most of them without facemasks, gathered for a dip in the Ganges during the weeks-long Kumbh Mela religious festival in March-April. EFE

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