India reaches nearly 100,000 coronavirus cases in 24 hours after retesting

India edged closer to recording 100,000 coronavirus cases in 24 hours as it ordered retesting of many people whose first results were from the less reliable rapid antigen tests in wide use.

There were a total of 96,551 confirmed cases, taking the full tally to more than 4.56 million. The Health Ministry on Friday also reported another 1,209 deaths for a total of 76,271.

India has the second-highest caseload behind the United States, where more than 6.39 million people have been confirmed infected.

The Health Ministry has asked states to allow testing on demand without a doctor’s prescription.

It also said some negative rapid antigen tests should be redone through the more reliable RT-PCR method, the gold standard of coronavirus tests that looks for the genetic code of the virus.

The retesting order applied to people who had negative results but had fever, coughing or shortness of breath, or those who developed COVID-19 symptoms within three days of their negative test results.

It was meant to ensure that infected people did not go undetected and to help check the spread of the disease among their contacts.

Using the rapid antigen or viral protein tests has allowed India to dramatically increase its testing capacity to more than 1.1 million a day, but the quicker, cheaper test is less reliable and retesting is often recommended.

The directive came as 60 per cent of India’s cases have been reported from only five of the country’s 28 states. However, experts caution that India’s outbreak is entering a more dangerous phase as the virus spreads to smaller towns and villages.

With the economy contracting by a record 23.9 per cent in the April-June quarter leaving millions jobless, the Indian government is continuing to relax lockdown restrictions imposed in late March.

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