BENGALURU: India reported a record rise of 273,810 new COVID-19 infections on Monday (Apr 19), taking its overall case load past 15 million, second only to the United States globally.

The country's deaths from COVID-19 also rose by a record 1,619 to reach a total of 178,769, according to health ministry data.

India authorities are scrambling to free up hospital beds and secure additional supplies of oxygen and treatment drugs as the nation's COVID-19 crisis deepens. 

Health workers are also preparing for further surges as millions of pilgrims attend a religious festival and ongoing state elections draw huge rallies.

After a national lockdown a year ago led to an economic slump, the Indian government is desperate to avoid a second stoppage. Despite this, major cities such as New Delhi have ordered essential services to close.

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