By Jane Wardell
(Reuters) – Coronavirus cases in India reached 100,000 on Tuesday, matching its number of intensive care beds, and the rate of increase of new infections showed little sign of slowing.
India reported 4,970 new cases over the previous 24 hours, taking its total to 101,139. Deaths rose by 134 to 3,163.
India’s number of cases has easily outstripped that of China, where the virus emerged late last year and which has been one of Asia’s infection hot spots.
China has reported nearly 83,000 cases but has kept its daily rise in new infections to single digits for the past week.
In contrast, new cases in India have risen by an average of more than 4,000 a day over the past week, according to a Reuters tally based on official data, despite a severe weeks-long lockdown.
India officially extended the lockdown on Sunday to May 31, although several states indicated they would allow businesses to reopen.
Health experts and officials are worried about the strain the epidemic is placing on India’s over-stretched and under-funded hospital system.
Dhruva Chaudhry, president of the Indian Society of Critical Care Medicine, told Reuters last month that India probably had only about 100,000 intensive care unit (ICU) beds and 40,000 ventilators.
Chaudhry warned there was not sufficient infrastructure or staff in the country of 1.35 billion people to handle a sharp spike in the number of critical patients.
While not every coronavirus patient needs an ICU bed, health experts worry about surging cases in India, particularly as many believe the official tally falls short of the reality.
India has not provided a detailed breakdown on the condition of people who have been diagnosed with COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus, although authorities have reported that about 37,000 people have recovered.
India’s death rate is less than that of some other big countries, at 3%, compared with about 6% for the United States, where some 89,000 people have died, and 14% for Britain.
(Editing by Richard Pullin and Jacqueline Wong)