A health worker wearing Personal Protective Equipment gear stands with a patient getting transferred to an intensive care unit in Mumbai. AFP/Punit Paranjpe
NEW DELHI - India saw record new jumps in COVID-19 cases and deaths on Thursday, dashing tentative hopes that a catastrophic recent surge that has stretched hospitals to the limit might be easing.
Health ministry numbers showed 3,980 deaths in the past 24 hours, taking the national total to 230,168, and 412,262 new cases, taking India's caseload since the pandemic began over 21 million.
Many experts suspect that with low levels of testing and poor record-keeping for cause of death -- and crematoriums overwhelmed in many places -- the real numbers could be much higher.
The rise follows several days of falling case numbers that had raised government hopes that the virus surge may have been easing.
Having hit a high of 402,000 last Friday, the daily number of cases eased to as low as 357,000 before creeping up again on Tuesday.
Senior health ministry official Lav Aggarwal had told reporters on Monday that there was a "very early signal of movement in the positive direction".
The sharp rise in cases since late March has overwhelmed hospitals in many places, with fatal shortages of beds, drugs and oxygen.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government has resisted imposing a new lockdown although several regions including the capital New Delhi, Bihar and Maharashtra have imposed local shutdowns.
Until now the worst-hit areas have been Delhi and Maharashtra but other states including West Bengal, Kerala and Karnataka are now reporting sharp rises.