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COVID seems to be spreading faster in India than any other nation, but officials claim success

India's largest slum combats coronavirus
How a Mumbai slum successfully combated coronavirus as cases soar across India 09:51

New Delhi India reported more than 64,500 new coronavirus cases on Wednesday, taking the total number of people in the South Asian country who have tested positive for the disease over 2.76 million. India remains the third worst affected nation, behind the U.S. and Brazil, in terms of the total number of cases, but it's at the top in terms of new infections. 

For the past 15 days, India has clocked more new COVID-19 cases on a daily basis than any other country in the world. The country has added 913,473 new cases in the past 15 days, averaging 60,898 per day. The total number of confirmed cases since the pandemic began has doubled in just 24 days.  

If India's infection rate keeps climbing, India may soon overtake Brazil to become the world's second worst affected country in terms of the number of cases. 

India has largely phased out what began as the world's biggest coronavirus lockdown. In March the government ordered its 1.3 billion people to stay indoors for all but essential reasons. Most businesses and services were allowed to reopen across large parts of the country weeks ago, but limited restrictions remain on large gatherings and in some virus hotspots.         

Health workers collect a swab sample from a woman at a free COVID-19 testing center in Hyderabad, India, August 19, 2020. NOAH SEELAM/AFP/Getty

While India's infection numbers are alarming, the country has reported a lower death rate and a higher recovery rate than most other countries hit hard by the pandemic. 

But on Wednesday, India reported 1,099 coronavirus deaths, its highest single-day toll yet, taking the overall death toll over 53,000. That's still less than half the number who have officially died of the disease in Brazil, and it pales in comparison to the more than 175,000 lives lost in the U.S., even though both of those countries have much higher case totals. 

Good strategy, or bad numbers?

Of the total 2.76 million cases in India, more than 2 million people have recovered — better than a 73% recovery rate. In comparison, the U.S. has a recovery rate just over 53%. 

"Higher number of recoveries and declining fatality has shown that India's graded strategy has worked," the Indian Health Ministry said in a statement Wednesday. 

But experts continue to voice fears that India's government may be under-reporting coronavirus deaths.

The World Health Organization and independent experts have raised concerns about low testing rates in the world's second most populous country. India has administered over 31 million tests, but that's only about 23,000 tests per million inhabitants — much lower proportionally than in the U.S., Russia and many European countries.

While India's seemingly low death rate and higher recovery rates seem like good news, some experts believe the country is yet to see the peak of the COVID-19 outbreak, and the real figures, when they emerge, could be grim.   

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