India’s COVID-19 crisis showed scant sign of easing on Tuesday, with a 7-day average of new infections at a record high and international heath authorities cautioning that the country’s variant of the virus is a matter of global concern.
According to the health ministry, India’s daily COVID-19 infections rose by 329,942, while fatalities from the disease increased by 3,876. India’s total coronavirus cases stand now at 22.99 million, while total deaths jumped to 249,992.
India leads the world in the daily average number of new fatalities reported, accounting for 1 in every 3 deaths reported worldwide on a daily basis, according to a Reuters tally.
The 7-day average of new infections is at a record high of 390,995.
The World Health Organization (WHO) said the COVID-19 variant first identified in the country last year was being classified as a variant of global concern, with some initial studies indicating that it spreads more easily.
“We are classifying this as a variant of concern at a global level,” Maria Van Kerkhove, WHO technical lead on COVID-19, told a briefing in Geneva on Monday. “There is some available information to suggest increased transmissibility.”
Late on Monday, 11 people perished in a government hospital in Tirupati, a city in the southern state of Andhra Pradesh, due to a delay in the arrival of a tanker carrying oxygen, a government official reported.
Adding to the pressure on medical facilities, the Indian government has told physicians to check for signs of mucormycosis or “black fungus” in coronavirus patients as hospitals report a surge in infections of the rare but possibly deadly infection.
The disease, which can lead to discolouration or blackening over the nose, chest pain, blurred or double vision, coughing blood and breathing difficulties, is strongly associated with diabetes. And diabetes can in turn be exacerbated by steroids such as dexamethasone, used to treat severe coronavirus.