Cases have surged across several states in since late February, following a near-full reopening of the economy and disregard of safety measures such as the wearing of face masks and social distancing.
Mumbai reported 5,504 new coronavirus cases on Thursday, its single-highest surge in 24 hours since the beginning of the pandemic, along with 14 deaths. The city had logged 5,185 new cases a day before. The rate at which infections are doubling now stands at 75 days – a worrying figure – and it is decreasing rapidly, experts said.
Authorities ordered people indoors in some towns in western India as the number of new coronavirus infections hit 53,476 infections overnight, the highest in five months, data showed earlier in the day.
Cases have surged across several states in since late February, following a near-full reopening of the economy and flouting of safety measures such as the wearing of face masks and social distancing, health officials say.
More than half the new infections were reported from Maharashtra, home to financial capital Mumbai, where millions have returned to work in offices and factories.
The local government imposed a full lockdown for ten days in the worst-affected towns Nanded and Beed following a cabinet meeting, an official said.
“It was suggested to allow local administration to impose localized lockdowns instead of imposing lockdown across the state,” said a senior government official who declined to be named, referring to comments made during the meeting.
Maharashtra has also reported a new variant of the virus, called a “double mutant,” adding to concerns about the surge in cases.
India’s overall case load stands at 1.18 crore, the third-highest behind the United States and Brazil. The country reported 251 new deaths, taking the overall tally to 1,60,692, data showed.
Businesses have been urging governments to ease curbs in the run-up to the festival of Holi this weekend. Restrictions have been lifted in the city of Nagpur in Maharashtra and large crowds have been seen in shopping areas, state police said.
“It is a Catch-22 wherein closure of shops led to a lot of inconvenience for traders and people but on the other side is COVID, which is spreading,” police commissioner Amitesh Kumar told Reuters.
(With inputs from agencies)