India Sets New Global Record of Over 4,500 COVID Deaths in One Day, Surpassing U.S.

India set the world record Wednesday for the most coronavirus deaths in a single day.

The Health Ministry reported 4,529 deaths in the past 24 hours, pushing India's confirmed COVID-19 deaths to 283,248. There were also 267,334 new cases reported Wednesday.

However, health experts believe these numbers are undercounted, especially in rural areas, due to weak data and the government's late response.

"The national story hid what was going on in rural India and it continues to be fairly invisible," mathematician Murad Banaji told the Associated Press.

The United States previously held the record for most daily deaths when 4,475 people died on January 12, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

Coronavirus Deaths India
Relatives wearing Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) suits perform the last rites for their loved one, who died due to the Covid-19 coronavirus, at a crematorium in New Delhi on May 19, 2021. India set the world record for most coronavirus deaths in a single day on Wednesday after 4,529 people died in 24 hours. PRAKASH SINGH/AFP via Getty Images

For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below:

With over 25 million cases since the pandemic began, India's confirmed infections are second only to the U.S.

Experts say new infections in India, which had been rising steeply, may finally be slowing. But deaths have continued to rise and hospitals are still crowded with patients. Over the last month, India's COVID-19 fatalities have jumped six-fold.

While megacities such as Mumbai and New Delhi have seen signs of improvement in recent days, there is concern that the virus is spreading through the vast countryside where a majority of the people live and where health care and testing are limited.

The situation is particularly alarming in Uttar Pradesh, India's most-populous state with 200 million people, where a court Monday said citizens have been left "at God's mercy." Even though new cases have been declining over the past week, the state has more than 136,000 confirmed active infections.

Government officials are racing to limit the spread of the virus in the state's villages. Teams have reached nearly 90,000 villages and the virus has been detected in about 21,000 of them, the Press Trust of India news agency cited senior health official Amit Mohan Prasad as saying.

In many parts of Uttar Pradesh, people are dying of fever and breathlessness even before getting tested for coronavirus. Crematoriums have run out of wood and hundreds of bodies are washing up on the banks of the Ganges River.

"The villagers often ignore fever and body ache. Before the relatives can understand what is happening, the patient dies," said Raja Bhaiya of the nonprofit group Vidya Dham Samiti, which works to raise awareness about the pandemic in the state's Banda district.

Bhaiya said the "only testimony of death in the village is the cries of women and children, and these cries are very frequent now."

India's vaccination drive is also faltering just at the time when it is needed the most. The number of daily administered doses has fallen by about half over the last six weeks, from a high of 4 million a day on April 2 to around 2 million or less this week.

Many states say they don't have enough vaccines to administer.

India COVID Death Record
Jammu and Kashmir State Disaster Response Force soldiers carry empty coffins for transporting bodies of people who died of COVID-19 outside government medical hospital in Jammu, India, Wednesday, May 19, 2021. India set the world record for most coronavirus fatalities in a single day on Wednesday after 4,529 people died in 24 hours. Channi Anand/AP Photo