India Breaks Daily Record for Covid-19 Cases As Total Passes 2 Million

India has recorded more than 2 million coronavirus cases, and broken its daily record for diagnoses of the virus which causes COVID-19.

The country reported 62,538 coronavirus cases on Friday, according to Johns Hopkins University. Of the 19,101,222 coronavirus cases reported worldwide, India makes up 2,027,074. It is the third country to hit the 2 million case milestone after the U.S. and Brazil.

India has the third highest confirmed case count, behind the U.S. at 4,883,654 and Brazil at 2,912,212. The country also has the fifth highest death toll, at 41,585 of the global total, preceded by the U.K., Mexico, Brazil, and the U.S. with the most at 160,104.

Maharashtra, in the India's western peninsular region, has borne the brunt of cases at almost 480,000, according to the The New York Times coronavirus tracker, making up more than a quarter of the country's total, followed by the southern state of Tamil Nadu, and Andhra Pradesh in the south east.

In March, India imposed a nationwide lockdown on its 1.3 billion citizens, which was relaxed in May. Cases have trended upwards throughout the outbreak.

News of its alarming case count came as the U.S. State Department ignored India and more than 50 other countries as it eased its "Do Not Travel" advisory. India remained on Level 4: Do Not Travel, which is the highest warning given by the department.

The department's Travel.State.Gov website stated travelers should not go to Indian "due to COVID-19." The State Department also highlighted the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has advised against all by essential travel to India, also because of the coronavirus.

The Level 4 advisory due to COVID-19 was also kept for Russia, Iran, and Brazil.

"Travelers to India may experience border closures, airport closures, travel prohibitions, stay at home orders, business closures, and other emergency conditions within India due to COVID-19," the State Department said.

The department first advised U.S. citizens against all international travel due to COVID-19 on March 19, four and a half months ago.

"With health and safety conditions improving in some countries and potentially deteriorating in others, the Department is returning to our previous system of country-specific levels of travel advice (with Levels from 1-4 depending on country-specific conditions), in order to give travelers detailed and actionable information to make informed travel decisions," the State Department said.

"This will also provide U.S. citizens more detailed information about the current status in each country. We continue to recommend U.S. citizens exercise caution when traveling abroad due to the unpredictable nature of the pandemic."

Subir Sinha, senior lecturer in institutions and development at the U.K.'s SOAS, University of London, told Newsweek India's caseload comes amid a climate of nationalism.

Sinha said: "India's current number of cases, deaths and daily increase is to be expected." Prime Minister Narendra Modi did not take the coronavirus seriously enough, according to Sinha, "except as it dovetailed with his program of establishing Hindu Rashtra [nationalism] and strengthening his authoritarian hold on power."

Carlo Caduff, associate professor in the department of global health and social medicine at King's College London, U.K., told Newsweek: "India has until recently tested only a small number of people, so the 2 million number is probably not very reliable. The increase in testing has generated more cases, so there will be more "jumps" with more systematic testing. If you test more, you find more cases."

He said: "India's lockdown is mainly a law-and-order intervention, rather than a public health measure."

Newsweek has contacted India's Ministry of Health and Family Welfare for comment.

This article has been updated with comment from Subir Sinha and Carlo Caduff.

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A man walks past a mural of frontline workers after the government eased a nationwide lockdown imposed as a preventive measure against the COVID-19 coronavirus in New Delhi on July 14, 2020. SAJJAD HUSSAIN/AFP via Getty Images