India's COVID infections hit month-high, one state reports spike in deaths

·2-min read
Commuters travel in a packed train in Mumbai

NEW DELHI (Reuters) -India's tally of daily COVID-19 cases nearly doubled on Monday from the previous day to more than 2,000 for the first time in a month, government data showed, and the southern state of Kerala reported a big jump in deaths.

India was at the centre of the global COVID crisis this time last year but the situation has improved since then and most precautions including the wearing of masks have recently been dropped.

But cases have been creeping up in the country of 1.35 billion people in the past few days.

The capital, Delhi, last week tightened COVID precautions for schools and neighbouring Uttar Pradesh, India's most populous state, again made masks compulsory in public places in some districts.

Authorities reported 2,183 new infections on Monday, taking the running total to more than 43 million, according to health ministry data.

The ministry reported 214 more deaths, including 151 since April 13 in Kerala, which is widely considered to issue more accurate data than many other states.

India has reported a total of about 522,000 deaths from the coronavirus though many global experts have said its real death toll could be up to 4 million, from several hundred million cases.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government has repeatedly rejected those higher estimates saying the mathematical models used to estimate deaths in smaller countries cannot be relied on for India.

Apart from Kerala, Delhi and the states of Maharashtra and Haryana reported triple-digit increases in infections in the past 24 hours. Hospitalisations have remained low though.

Epidemiologist Chandrakant Lahariya said people had to learn to live with the virus and authorities should not close schools that were only recently opened.

"Cases will be reported from all settings - including schools - for many months to come, no matter what we do," he wrote on Twitter.

(Reporting by Krishna N. Das and Saurabh Sharma; Editing by Robert Birsel)

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