India has more than 500,000 confirmed coronavirus cases, according to government figures that showed a record daily leap of 18,500 new infections on Saturday.
Authorities said a total of 15,685 people had died after another 385 deaths were added to the toll in 24 hours. The pandemic is not expected to peak in India for several more weeks and experts say the number of cases could pass one million before the end of July.
Some state governments are considering imposing new lockdowns. A hard-hitting nationwide lockdown that started March 25 is gradually being eased because of the damage caused to the economy.
The virus has particularly hit India’s densely populated cities and there are now major concerns for New Delhi which has overtaken Mumbai with nearly 80,000 cases.
The city’s government has predicted it will have 500,000 infections by the end of July. It is already using railway carriages to house patients and has taken over hotels and banquet halls to relieve the pressure on hard-pressed hospitals. The government has been criticised over a lack of testing that experts say has hidden the true number of cases in India. The number of confirmed cases now stands at 509,000.
The country is currently fourth in the world for the number of infections, behind the United States, Brazil and Russia, though it has a much lower death toll.
(This article originally appeared on Al Jazeera)