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Representational Image

About one in four of India's 135 crore people may have been infected with the coronavirus, said a source with direct knowledge of a government serological survey, suggesting the country's real caseload was many times higher than reported.

India has confirmed 1.08 crore COVID-19 infections, the most anywhere outside the United States.

But the survey, whose findings are much more conservative than a private one from last week, indicates India's actual cases may have crossed 30 crore. The state-run Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), which conducted the survey, said it would only share the findings at a news conference on Thursday. Separate tests done on more than seven lakh people across India by diagnostics company Thyrocare Technologies showed 55% of the population may have already been infected, its chief told Reuters last week.

The World Health Organization says at least 60% to 70% of a population needs to have immunity to break the chain of transmission.

India reported 11,039 new cases on Wednesday. Deaths rose by 110 to 1,54,596. Infections and fatalities have come down significantly since a mid-September peak of nearly 1,00,000 a day.

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Free Press Journal