India has overtaken Brazil to become the second worst-hit country by the pandemic with more than 4.2 million people infected.
The 90,802 cases added in the past 24 hours pushed India’s total past Brazil to leave the country trailing only the United States, which has recorded more than six million.
India’s Health Ministry on Monday also reported 1,016 deaths for a total of 71,642, the third-highest national toll.
India has been recording the world’s largest daily increases in coronavirus cases for almost a month.
Despite over two million new cases in the past month and the virus spreading through the country’s smaller towns and villages, the Indian government has continued relaxing restrictions to try and resuscitate the economy.
On Monday, the Delhi Metro — a rapid transit system that serves India’s sprawling capital New Delhi and adjoining areas — resumed operations after five months.
Only asymptomatic people were allowed to board the chugging trains, with masks, social distancing and temperature checks mandatory.
“We are on our way. It’s been 169 days since we’ve seen you!,” the official Twitter account of Delhi Metro tweeted.
The capital’s metro train network is India’s largest rapid transport system.
Before closing down in March, the packed trains carried an average of 2.6 million passengers daily.
Its reopening comes at a time when India has the fastest-growing coronavirus crisis in the world and the economy has shrunk faster than any other major nation’s.
Almost 60% of India’s active cases are coming from the states of Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Maharashtra and Uttar Pradesh, India’s most populous state. But infections are also returning to areas that had managed to slow the spread of the virus, offsetting marginal gains.
Initially hit hard by the virus, New Delhi had seemed to turn the tide through its aggressive screening for patients. But after reopening steadily, the state has reported a recent surge in cases and fatalities. The reopening of the metro is expected to further worsen the situation, experts fear.
The recent surge in cases also highlights the risks of India’s strategy on relying too heavily on rapid tests that screen for antigens or viral proteins. These tests are cheap, yield results in minutes and have allowed India to test over a million patients daily.
But they are also less precise and likely to miss infected people, said Dr Gagandeep Kang, an infectious diseases expert of Christian Medical College at Vellore in southern India.
India also says its recovery rate is 77.3% and the case fatality rate has declined to around 1.72%.