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India on Wednesday was set to report the highest ever single-day rise in covid-19 cases globally with 295,918 fresh infections recorded by 11pm, showed data compiled by covid19india.org. With data yet to come in for covid hotspot Chhattisgarh, the final count for the day could well cross 300,000.

On 2 January at the peak of the post-Christmas pandemic wave, the US had reported 300,310 covid cases, the current record.

India also added at least 1,846 deaths on Wednesday, with some states yet to report their tolls. But social media was abuzz with claims of unreported deaths across states.

India’s second wave, which picked up pace last month, is proving to be far more severe than the first wave that peaked in September 2020. The daily additions are more than thrice the numbers reported back then, and nearly 20 times the levels of early March 2021.

Active cases , or the number of patients undergoing treatment, swelled to nearly 2.3 million on Wednesday. India’s active case load is now doubling every 10 days, the fastest so far, while the total number of cases is now doubling every 40 days, from nearly 700 days just two months ago, hinting at the virulent nature of the second wave of infections.

During the first-wave peak in September, the doubling rate was around 30 days, but that was on a significantly lower base than now.

The ramp-up in testing capacity for coronavirus since mid-March has not helped bring down the positivity rate. Over the past week, one in five tests (20%) have turned positive, the highest since the covid-19 outbreak, data from the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) showed. Even at its peak, the US had reported a 14% positivity rate, while India’s last peak witnessed 9% positivity rate.

The state-wise contributions to the second wave of the pandemic are significantly different compared to the first wave.

Maharashtra continues to be the epicentre of the pandemic, and its share in infections in India has jumped from 23% in September to 34% in April. Uttar Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, and Delhi are also accounting for an increased share of the national case-load.

On Wednesday, Maharashtra reported 67,468 new covid cases, followed by Uttar Pradesh (33,106). Maharashtra also reported the highest number of fatalities with 568 deaths, followed by Uttar Pradesh (187).

In the week ended Sunday, the highest number of new cases were added worldwide, with nearly one in three cases reported by India. The raging second wave in the country could thwart the global fight against the pandemic at a time when vaccination drives are yet to pick up in most developing world countries.

The US and Brazil, the other two most affected countries, are reporting just about a quarter of India’s cases every day.

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