NEW DELHI (AP) — India
passed another grim milestone Monday, with more than 300,000 people
killed by the coronavirus
, as a devastating surge of new infections that erupted with ferocity appears to be subsiding.
The achievement was announced by India's health ministry at a time when sluggish vaccine deliveries have hampered the country's fight against the pandemic
, forcing many people to miss their shots, and a rare but fatal fungal infection affecting COVID-19
patients has doctors concerned.
The death toll
in India is the third highest in the world, accounting for 8.6% of the nearly 34.7 million coronavirus fatalities worldwide, though the true figure is thought to be much higher.
The health ministry reported 4,454 new deaths in the last 24 hours, bringing India's total fatalities to 303,720, as well as 222,315 new infections, bringing the total to nearly 27 million, both of which are almost certainly undercounts.
The first known COVID-19 death in India occurred on March 12, 2020, in southern Karnataka state, and it took seven months to reach the first 100,000 dead, with the toll reaching 200,000 in late April
. The next 100,000 deaths were recorded in just 27 days after new infections ripped through dense cities and rural areas alike, overwhelming health care
systems on the verge of collapse.
The average daily death and case count has decreased slightly in recent weeks, and the government announced on Sunday that it is conducting the most COVID-19 tests in history, with more than 2.1 million samples tested in the previous 24 hours.
Megacities such as Mumbai and New Delhi, which were the hardest hit by the latest outbreak, have also shown signs of improvement in recent days; however, the virus is far from over in India, and there are early indications that it has already taken a heinous toll in the country's vast rural areas, where the majority of the population lives and health care is scarce.
Hundreds of bodies have washed up on the banks of the Ganges River in Uttar Pradesh state in recent weeks, with many others discovered buried in shallow graves along the river's sandy banks, raising concerns that they are the remains of COVID-19 victims.
campaign has also recently slowed, with many states reporting a lack of vaccines
The world's largest vaccine-producing country has vaccinated nearly 41.6 million people, or 3.8% of its nearly 1.4 billion population.
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