India has reported another record daily surge in coronavirus infections to overtake Brazil as the second-worst hit country.
The 168,912 cases added in the last 24 hours pushed India’s total to 13.5 million, while Brazil has 13.4 million, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.
India also reported 904 deaths in the past 24 hours, taking its total to 170,179, which is the fourth highest toll, behind the United States, Brazil and Mexico.
India is experiencing its worst surge of the pandemic, with a seven-day rolling average of more than 130,000 cases per day. Hospitals across the country are becoming overwhelmed with patients, and experts worry the worst is yet to come.
The latest surge also coincides with the shortage of vaccines in some Indian states, including western Maharashtra state, home to financial capital Mumbai, which is the worst hit state and has recorded nearly half of the country’s new infections in the past two weeks.
But hundreds of thousands of Hindu devotees flocked on Monday to take a holy bath in India’s Ganges river, even as the nation racked up the world’s highest tally of new daily coronavirus infections.
In the northern city of Haridwar, nearly a million devotees thronged the banks of the Ganges, a river many Hindus consider holy, to participate in the months-long ‘Kumbh Mela’ or pitcher festival.
By mid-morning a million people had taken a dip in the river, believed to wash away one’s sins.
As India’s second wave of infections builds, with fewer than 4% estimated to have been vaccinated among a population of 1.4 billion, experts say the situation could have a long way to go before it starts getting better.