India surpasses 200,000 COVID deaths amid record spike

India has surpassed the grim milestone of more than 200,000 deaths caused by the COVID-19 disease as a devastating second wave of infections overwhelms the South Asian nation’s under-funded healthcare system.

Hospitals across the country are reporting a shortage of medical oxygen and beds. Even crematoriums are running out of space, with funerals held in parking lots, and parks turned into temporary cremation grounds.

The World Health Organization says a variant of COVID-19 feared to be contributing to a surge in coronavirus cases in India has been found in at least 17 countries.

India has reported 360,960 new coronavirus cases – its biggest surge since the pandemic erupted more than a year ago – and the overall number of cases are now nearly at 18 million, according to health ministry data.

The country saw 3,293 deaths in the past 24 hours. It was the first time the daily death toll crossed the 3,000 mark.

India’s total death toll at 201,187 is now only behind that of the United States, Brazil and Mexico.