COVID: India overtakes Brazil as second most affected country in the world | News on the coronavirus pandemic

India is reporting a record 168,912 cases overnight, bringing its total to 13.53 million infections reported since the start of the pandemic.

India reported a record 168,912 COVID-19 infections overnight, Health Ministry data showed, overtaking Brazil to become the second worst-hit country in the world by the coronavirus.

Deaths in India stood at 904, bringing the total to 170,179, according to data released on Monday.

India’s overall tally has reached 13.53 million, while John Hopkins University estimated the total number of cases in Brazil at 13.48 million. The United States leads the world ranking with 31.2 million cases.

India had overtaken Brazil in September last year to become the second most affected country in the world by cases, but it slipped to third place after seeing a drop in cases until January of this year .

The second most populous country in the world has seen a sharp increase in cases after several weeks of religious holidays, election rallies and lax masks.

While regional elections are underway in several states, tens of thousands of people have also gathered in northern Uttarakhand for the Kumbh Mela or Pitcher Festival, a Hindu religious pilgrimage.

The government is desperate to avoid a hugely unpopular second lockdown, but many states are tightening the screws.

In the worst-hit Maharashtra and its capital, Mumbai, restaurants are closed and public gatherings of more than five people are banned.

The health ministry said the surge had led to a “spike in demand” for the antiviral drug remdesivir, forcing a ban on its export despite a study supported by the World Health Organization claiming it had “Little or no effect” on COVID-19 mortality.

Concerns about the side effects and the effectiveness of tested and approved vaccines continue to rattle nerves elsewhere.

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