Death toll tops 1k but expert says no exponential rise

COVID-19: India's death toll crosses 1,000 but expert says no exponential rise

Wednesday's daily increase in cases, 1,897, was the highest in weeks. (Credit: PTI Photo)

India has recorded its 1,000th novel coronavirus death, but the head of a government think-tank NITI Aayog said on Wednesday that its 1.3 billion people, strained from weeks of lockdown, were not experiencing the feared exponential surge in infections. India has now reported 31,331 cases, including 1,007 deaths, according to figures from the Health Ministry. 

Follow latest updates on the COVID-19 pandemic here

Prime Minister Narendra Modi must decide soon whether to extend the world's biggest lockdown, now 40 days old, beyond May 3.

Health officials say the shutdown has prevented an explosive surge of infections that would have crippled India's modest health care system.

"Our analysis finds that the rate of growth in positive cases and fatalities has been consistently lower - linear but non-exponential," said Amitabh Kant, chief executive of the government think-tank Niti Aayog.

Aayog urged a phased exit from the shutdown, but the government has a difficult decision ahead.

Also Read: Coronavirus India update: State-wise total number of confirmed cases, deaths

The big cities of Delhi, Mumbai and Ahmedabad - which are also economic growth engines - top the list of cases and there are no signs of the pandemic abating there, Health Minister Harsh Vardhan said.

"When I see Delhi's COVID-19 map, I see only red and orange colours which is extremely worrying."

Red zones indicate infection hotspots, orange denotes some infection, while green indicates an area with no infections.

Wednesday's daily increase in cases, 1,897, was the highest in weeks.