A woman wearing a protective mask walks past a graffiti of healthcare workers, Navi Mumbai, March 8, 2021. Photo: Reuters/Francis Mascarenhas/Files.
New Delhi: India reported the year’s biggest daily increase in COVID-19 cases on March 14, with 25,320 new infections, a day ahead of a lockdown in the state of Maharashtra, the epicentre of the renewed surge.
The jump was the biggest since December 16, according to data shared by the Union health ministry. India is the third-most affected country globally with 11.36 million cases, behind the US and Brazil.
India‘s COVID-19 deaths rose by 161 to 158,607 over the last 24 hours, Sunday’s data shows, compared to an average of about 100 since early February 2021.
Times of India also reported that in the week of March 8-14, the country reported 33% more cases from the week before – the highest such increase since July 2020.
Nagpur district in Maharashtra will lock down on Monday for the first time since nationwide curbs were lifted beginning in June last year. The state has reported the highest number of infections: 2.3 million.
About 3,000 police will be deployed to enforce a week-long curfew after a surge in coronavirus cases there, officials said.
Officers will be watching traffic to stop unnecessary journeys and checking that most offices and shops, apart from groceries and pharmacies, stay closed, Nagpur police commissioner Amitesh Kumar said.
“It’s a curfew except for the essential services. Hospital and medical shops will be functioning and people going for vaccination will be facilitated,” he told Reuters.
The medical superintendent at Nagpur‘s Government Medical College and Hospital said infections in the city had risen 60% over the last two weeks to around 13,000, among the highest in Maharashtra.
The national capital New Delhi has also reported a steady rise in infections over the last two weeks, with health authorities cautioning residents against any slackening of hygiene measures.
India‘s caseload had been falling steadily since peaking around September 19, 2020, but increasingly frequent social gatherings and travel have caused a spike since early February.
The latter coincided roughly with a nationwide vaccination campaign, which began on January 16. The Government of India aims to vaccinate a fifth of the country’s 1.3 billion people by August.
(With Reuters inputs)