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Official figures showed cases jumped by 8,909 from the previous day in one of the highest single-day spikes, taking the tally to 207,615 as the world’s second most populous country emerges from a strict nationwide lockdown imposed in March. The death toll from COVID-19 stands at 5,815.
We are very far away from the peak
Dr Nivedita Gupta
Dr Nivedita Gupta of the government-run Indian Council of Medical Research said: “We are very far away from the peak.”
Government officials have previously said it could be later this month, or even July, before the number of cases starts to fall.
The lockdown has crippled the economy and left tens of thousands without work.
And as train and bus services open, migrant workers are travelling home from the coronavirus hot spots of Mumbai and Delhi to areas where infections are starting to rise.
These included states such as Bihar, Odisha and Uttarakhand which traditionally supply the bulk of migrant workers.
Dr Gupta said India had done well in tackling the disease given its 1.3bn population.
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She said: “Our preventive measures have been very effective. We are in a much better position vis-a-vis other countries.”
Officials say the lockdown helped limit the spread of the virus, giving space to hospitals to deal with those affected.
Lav Agarwal, joint secretary in the health ministry, said India’s fatality rate of 2.82 percent against the global average of 6.13 percent was among the lowest in the world.
He said: “We have been able to achieve this due to timely identification of cases and proper clinical management.”
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In a separate development, the Indian government has approved Gilead Sciences antiviral drug remdesivir for emergency use in treating COVID-19 patients.
Remdesivir, which is administered intravenously in hospital, is the first drug to show improvement in COVID-19 patients in formal clinical trials and is at the forefront of the battle against the disease which still has no approved treatment or vaccine.
The drug has also been granted emergency use authorisation by the US and Japan and is being administered in some countries under compassionate use rules.
The Indian approval comes a day after the US-based Gilead reported remdesivir showed modest benefit in patients with moderate COVID-19 given a five-day course, while those who received it for 10 days in the study did not fare as well.
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