• Thursday, Oct 29, 2020
  • Last Update : 12:45 am

India study suggests millions more may have caught coronavirus

  • Published at 07:50 pm August 20th, 2020
India Covid-19
FIile photo: A healthcare worker wearing personal protective equipment (PPE) takes a swab from a migrant worker amidst the Covid-19 outbreak, in New Delhi on August 17, 2020 Reuters

India is already officially the third worst-hit country after the US and Brazil

More than a quarter of New Delhi's 20 million residents may have caught the novel coronavirus without showing symptoms, a study released on Thursday indicated, raising fresh doubts about India's official case numbers.

Extrapolated, the antibody study on 15,000 residents means 5.8 million people in the bustling capital could have caught the virus -- more than 37 times the official tally of 156,139 infections.

India is already officially the third worst-hit country after the US and Brazil, and the health ministry reported a record daily jump of 69,652 new infections on Wednesday -- taking the total to 2.84 million.

On Thursday, Delhi health minister Satyendra Jain said blood tests on 15,000 residents conducted earlier this month found 29.1% of them had virus antibodies.

Scientists say, however, that antibody tests should be treated with caution because they also pick up other coronaviruses, not just the latest Covid-19.

A similar survey in June-July said 23% of people tested had been exposed to the virus in the city.

Surveys in other Indian cities have also suggested more infections than the official numbers suggest.

In the western city of Pune, 51.5% of respondents in five badly affected pockets had antibodies in their blood, a recent survey showed.

Another in late July found 57% of those tested in Mumbai's slums had the infection -- far more than official data suggests.

Another survey released this week, testing sewage water in Hyderabad, estimated that some 6.6 percent of the city of over nine million may have been infected -- also far higher than the official data suggests.

Germany, France cases surge

Germany and France record their worst daily infection rates in months with concerns growing that cases could spike in Europe as holidaymakers come home and children return to school.

Germany reports 1,707 new cases in the past 24 hours, the highest daily toll since the peak of the pandemic in April.

And France records new cases at the fastest daily rate since May, with almost 3,800 infections confirmed in the past 24 hours.

Nearly 788,000 deaths

The pandemic has killed at least 787,918 people worldwide since surfacing in China late last year, according to a tally from official sources compiled by AFP at 8pm on Thursday.

More than 22.4 million cases have been registered.

The United States has recorded the most deaths with 173,193, followed by Brazil with 111,100, Mexico with 58,481, India with 53,866 and Britain with 41,397.

US: No mandatory vaccine

Anthony Fauci, the United States' top infectious diseases official, says the government will not make any future COVID-19 vaccine obligatory for the general public -- though local jurisdictions could make it mandatory for some groups, like children.

High-risk Croatia coast

Germany adds popular tourist destinations along Croatia's coast to its list of high-risk areas.

The designation for Croatia's Sibenik-Knin and Split-Dalmatia counties announced by the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for infectious diseases means travellers returning to Germany from there must take a free mandatory Covid-19 test and face possible quarantine.


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