India on Monday reported more than 300,000 new coronavirus cases for a 12th straight day to take its overall caseload to just shy of 20 million, as scientists predicted a peak in infections in the coming days.
With 368,147 new cases over the past 24 hours, India's total infections stand at 19.93 million, while total fatalities rose by 3,417 to 218,959, according to health ministry data.
Medical experts say real numbers across the country of 1.35 billion may be five to 10 times higher than the official tally.
But the health ministry offered a glimmer of hope, reporting that positive cases relative to the number of tests conducted fell on Monday for the first time since at least April 15.
India's coronavirus cases may peak between May 3-5, according to a mathematical model from a team of scientists advising the government, a few days earlier than a previous estimate as the virus has spread faster than expected.
Hospitals have filled to capacity, medical oxygen supplies have run short and morgues and crematoriums have been swamped as the country deals with the surge in cases.
At least 11 states and union territories have imposed some form of restrictions to try and stem infections, but Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government is reluctant to impose a national lockdown, concerned about the economic impact.
"In my opinion, only a national stay at home order and declaring medical emergency will help to address the current healthcare needs," Bhramar Mukherjee, an epidemiologist with the University of Michigan said on Twitter.
"The # of active cases is accumulating, not just the daily new cases. Even the reported numbers state there are around 3.5M active cases."
PUKmedia \ Reuters