New Delhi

India’s coronavirus cases may peak between May 3-5, according to a mathematical model of a team of scientists advising the government, a few days earlier than a previous estimate as the virus has spread faster than expected.

The world's second-most populous country has reported more than 300,000 new infections daily for nine consecutive days, hitting another global record of 386,452 on Friday.

The surge has led to a public health crisis in India, forcing the government to seek oxygen, medicines and other essentials from countries around the world.

"Our belief is that by next week, the daily new cases nationwide would have peaked," M. Vidyasagar, head of a government-appointed group of scientists modelling the trajectory of infections, told Reuters.

The group previously told senior government officials in a presentation on April 2 that cases would peak between May 5-10, said Vidyasagar.

"We said (at that presentation) that it was not a matter of putting up some structures that would come up in July or August, because by then the wave will have ended," he said.

"Try to figure out how we're going to fight the fight for the next four to six weeks, that was the message. Don’t waste a lot of time putting up long-term solutions because your problem is right now."

India's first wave of the pandemic peaked in mid-September with 97,894 cases. The country is now reporting more than three times as many infections daily, taking the total number of cases to 18.8 million with 208,000 deaths.

The real number of infections is believed to be 50 times more, said Vidyasagar, as many people who contract the disease show no symptoms.