India's coronavirus death toll has surpassed 300,000 after 4,454 new deaths were reported in daily figures.
The total of COVID-related deaths stands at 303,720, the country's Health Ministry said.
It is the third highest behind the US and Brazil, but experts believe the actual number is much higher. The rise of the coronavirus in India has shown signs of improvement in cities like New Delhi and Mumbai, but it is still causing a terrible death toll in rural areas.
While the average number of deaths and cases has declined in recent weeks, the numbers remain high with another 222,315 infections reported Monday. Vaccines have also been slowed recently, with many states saying they don't have enough doses. India has fully vaccinated around 41.6 million people, just 3.8% of its population, despite being the world's largest producer of vaccines.
Many people in India have been forced to beg and switch for oxygen amid a chronic shortage that has caused hospitals to overflow with patients. But it is the vast field, where medical care is often especially poor, that is now suffering the worst. Hundreds of bodies, many of which were feared to be COVID victims, have turned up on the banks of the Ganges in the state of Uttar Pradesh in recent weeks and others have been found in shallow graves. A deadly fungal infection affecting coronavirus patients and those who have recovered is also providing a "new challenge," according to Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Mucormycosis, known as black fungus, is caused by exposure to a mold that is often found in soil, air, and human mucus. It spreads through the respiratory tract and erodes facial structures. Sometimes doctors have to remove the eye to prevent it from reaching the brain. Nearly 9,000 cases have been reported so far, Federal Minister Sadananda Gowda said on Saturday, and there is now a shortage of the drug used to treat the condition.
Local media said that more than 250 had died from the disease. Meanwhile, the Indian government said on Sunday that it was conducting increasing tests for COVID to try to curb the pandemic, with more than 2.1 million completed in the previous 24 hours.