India’s 161,736 new COVID cases are the world’s highest

India has reported 161,736 new coronavirus infections, hitting the world’s highest daily tally once again, for a total of 13.69 million cases, health ministry data showed.

Numbers typically fall on Tuesdays because of delayed results from tests done on the weekend. Deaths rose by 879 to 171,058. Even those figures, experts say, are likely lower than reality.

Over the past week, India has averaged more than 130,000 cases a day. Its toll pushed past Brazil’s on Monday, making it second only to the United States in the number of coronavirus infections, though both countries have much smaller populations.

Nearly all the Indian states are showing an uptick in cases as daily new infections hit record levels, and experts say that missteps stemming from the belief that the pandemic was “over” are coming back to haunt the country.

“Nobody took a long-term view of the pandemic,” Dr Vineeta Bal, who studies immune systems at the Indian Institute of Science Education and Research, told the AP news agency.

When infections began plummeting in India in September, many concluded the worst had passed. Masks and social distancing were abandoned, while the government gave mixed signals about the level of risk.

When cases began rising again in February, authorities were left scrambling, with some saying the government’s confused messaging failed to communicate the risk.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has noted the need for people to wear masks due to the “alarming” rise in infections. But over the last few weeks, while on the campaign trail, he has delivered speeches in front of tens of thousands of mask-less supporters.