‘You don’t know how many people died in China … you don’t know how many people died in India,’ Trump said during debate. ‘They don’t exactly give you a straight count’

India is second only to the United States in terms of total cases, reporting 6.23 million infections and almost 100,000 deaths

on Tuesday questioned the credibility of India’s statistics on Covid-19 deaths, lumping in the US partner with nemeses China and Russia during a fiery pre-election debate.

Trump was responding to heated criticism from his

, who blamed Trump for the heavy Covid-19 toll in the United States which has recorded more than 200,000 deaths and more than 7 million infections.

“When you talk about numbers you don’t know how many people died in China, you don’t know how many people died in Russia, you don’t know how many people died in India,” Trump said at the debate in Cleveland. “They don’t exactly give you a straight count.”

Trump said that “millions” could have died without his actions and again blamed the pandemic on China, which initially suppressed news of the disease when it emerged late last year.

US leaders frequently criticise China and Russia but it is rare for them to take a negative tone on India, a growing US partner.

Trump in February paid a visit to India at the invitation of

, who shares some of Trump’s nationalist orientation, with the two leaders addressing a packed stadium together.

surged to 6.23 million after it reported 80,472 new infections in the last 24 hours, data from the health ministry showed on Wednesday. The official death toll is almost 100,000.

Deaths from coronavirus infections rose by 1,179 in the last 24 hours to 97,497, the ministry said.

The south Asian nation, which is second only to the United States in terms of total cases, has a scope for higher infections with a large chunk of the population still unexposed to the virus, a survey showed on Tuesday.

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