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India recorded over 400,000 new COVID cases in a 24-hour period for the first time on Saturday, the first country to do so in the pandemic, official data showed.

According to the Ministry of Health, 401,993 new infections were registered, bringing the total number of cases to 19.1 million. There were 3,523 deaths, bringing the death toll to 211,853.

Many experts suggest that due to inadequate testing and inaccurate recording of the cause of death, the real numbers are much higher.

Indian authorities lowered their vigilance earlier in the year after infections fell below 10,000 a day, lifting restrictions on most activities.

Mass religious gatherings such as the Kumbh Mela, which attracted millions of Hindu pilgrims, and political rallies were allowed to continue even though the number of cases rose sharply in late March.

In April alone, India recorded around seven million new infections. On a per capita basis, however, India’s number of cases remains low compared to many other countries.

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