India has recorded more than 24,000 new cases of Covid-19 in the past 24 hours, taking its total above that of Russia.

The country now has the third-largest number of confirmed cases in the world, 697,413. There have been 19,693 deaths.

The latest surge in numbers has also been powered by a rise in cases from a handful of southern states, including Telangana, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka.

India reopened shopping centres, places of worship and offices a month ago.

For the last three days, India’s caseload has galloped at an alarming rate, adding more than 20,000 daily infections per day.

Although India has the third highest number of cases, it is eighth in fatalities, according to statistics from Johns Hopkins University.

Southern Indian states had earlier managed to keep infections at bay.

But this looks to change as reported infections in the south – Karnataka, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu – are growing faster than the national growth rate, reported The Indian Express newspaper.

India went into a stringent lockdown in March in an effort to curb the spread of the coronavirus, whose numbers were only in the hundreds then.

It began to ease out of it in phases in June to promote economic activity, even as cases continued to spike.

But experts point to India’s low fatality rate – 2.4% in comparison to the global average of 4.7% – as a potential silver lining.

The country’s climbing recovery rate – about 60% of all its confirmed cases – is another encouraging sign.

India’s active infections – 36% of its total caseload – is significant as it is these cases that have a direct impact on the country’s fragile healthcare system, which has dominated headlines.

Numerous reports of patients being turned away and refused treatment at various hospitals in cities like Delhi, Mumbai and Bangalore has prompted outrage among citizens, and has even led to deaths in some cases.

The rise in numbers is also partly a reflection of increased testing – cities and states across the country have ramped up testing in recent weeks.

The number of daily tests conducted has risen to about 250,000, according to local media.

Various states and cities have scaled up testing facilities and Delhi, for example, has focused heavily on antigen testing recently.

But the latest numbers are also a result of normalcy seeping back into India after it began to exit out of its lockdown.

It is partly a reflection of increased activity outdoors, with restaurants opening up and employees returning back to the office.

The rising numbers could also be an indication that India may be rapidly approaching its peak, with many experts earlier saying it would strike when the monsoon began between July and August.