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Indian Covid victim, 76, wakes up on her funeral bier moments before she is due to be cremated

An elderly woman in India narrowly avoided being burned alive after her family mistakenly thought she was dead and prepared her for cremation.

The woman, identified as Shakuntala Gaikwad, tested positive for Covid last week.

Yahoo reported her family took her to Silver Jubilee Hospital in Baramati but as the wards were full they were turned away.

As they waited for an ambulance she became unconscious and the family mistakenly thought she had died and so prepared her for cremation.

The family of Shakuntala Gaikwad (pictured) believed she had died and were preparing for her cremation when she woke up 

But moments before it was lit, Shakuntala woke up on her own funeral bier in a panic and started crying.

Local police confirmed the story.

She was later transported back to hospital to be cared for.

Last year India's Health Ministry released guidelines for the cremation of people who have died of Covid, with special measures ordered to avoid any potential reinfection. 

Earlier today it was reported the number of Covid-19 cases in India has dropped below 300,000 a day for the first time in three weeks - but as the country grapples with a second wave, it must also contend with a killer cyclone.

Cyclone Tauktae bore down on India on Monday, disrupting the nation's urgent response to its devastating Covid-19 outbreak.

At least 12 people died over the weekend as Tauktae, the biggest cyclone to hit western India in 20 years according to local media, triggered gale-force winds, torrential rains and high tidal waves along the Karnataka, Kerala and Goa coasts.

Relatives performing the last rites for a Covid-19 victim in India amid its current disaster 

It comes as India's health ministry on Monday reported 281,386 coronavirus cases, dropping below 300,000 for the first time since April 21.

But daily deaths remained about 4,000 and experts warned that the count was unreliable due to a lack of testing in rural areas, where the virus is spreading fast.

At the current rate India's total caseload since the epidemic struck a year ago should pass the 25 million mark in the next couple of days. Total deaths were put at 274,390.

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