India accounted for nearly half of the coronavirus cases reported worldwide last week and one in four of the deaths, the World Health Organisation has said.

The country was also responsible for nine in 10 of the Covid-19 cases and deaths in the WHO’s South East Asia region in the past week, according to the Geneva-based agency’s weekly report.

The World Health Organisation said on Wednesday: “India accounts for over 90% of both cases and deaths in the region, as well as 46% of global cases and 25% of global deaths reported in the past week.”

The figures come as two positive Covid-19 cases among the Indian delegation in the UK for this week’s G7 meeting have been found.

Covid-19 cases in India accounted for nearly half of worldwide coronavirus infections last week

Although it is not a G7 member, India was invited to attend the first in-person meeting of the group’s foreign ministers in more than two years in London this week.

India reported nearly 2.6 million new cases last week, a 20% increase on the previous week, and 23,231 deaths, the WHO has said.

There were 5.7 million new infections and more than 93,000 deaths confirmed worldwide, the organisation said in its report.

India, which accounts for almost 18% of the world’s population, became the second country to record 20 million infections on Tuesday.

Covid-19 cases in India accounted for nearly half of worldwide coronavirus infections last week

The first was the United States.

Hospitals have been running out of beds and oxygen in India after a surge of the virus there, including of a highly infectious new variant first identified in the country.

Morgues and crematoriums have been overflowing.

Many people have died in ambulances and car parks waiting for hospital beds.

Covid-19 cases in India accounted for nearly half of worldwide coronavirus infections last week

India’s government has faced calls for a strict lockdown to slow a devastating surge in new cases.

A court in New Delhi will also decide whether to punish officials for failing to boost erratic supplies of oxygen for overstretched hospitals.

Covid-19 cases in India accounted for nearly half of worldwide coronavirus infections last week

Rahul Gandhi, a leader of the opposition Congress party, said this week “a lockdown is now the only option because of a complete lack of strategy by the Indian government”.

There are also signs that India’s outbreak is spreading to its neighbours.

Nepal recorded a 137% increase in cases to 31,088 last week, while Sri Lanka’s COVID-19 outbreak was also growing, the WHO said.