India tops 20 million COVID-19 cases amid warning of ‘horrible’ weeks ahead

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Relatives of a person who died of COVID-19 mourn outside a field hospital in Mumbai, India, Monday, May 3, 2021. (AP Photo/Rafiq Maqbool)

NEW DELHI (AP) — COVID-19 infections and deaths are mounting with alarming speed in India with no end in sight to the crisis and a top expert warning that the coming weeks in the country of nearly 1.4 billion people will be “horrible.”

India’s official count of coronavirus cases surpassed 20 million Tuesday, nearly doubling in the past three months, while deaths officially have passed 220,000. Staggering as those numbers are, the true figures are believed to be far higher, the undercount an apparent reflection of the troubles in the health care system.

The country has witnessed scenes of people dying outside overwhelmed hospitals and funeral pyres lighting up the night sky.

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Infections have surged in India since February in a disastrous turn blamed on more contagious variants of the virus as well as government decisions to allow massive crowds to gather for Hindu religious festivals and political rallies before state elections.

Infections in India are rising faster than anywhere else in the world, a solemn reminder the pandemic is far from ending.

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