| 20 April 2024, Saturday |

India buckles down for COVID-19 curbs as infections hit 6-month high

India’s biggest cities have buckled down for more stringent lockdowns and other coronavirus curbs on Saturday as infections hit a six-month high and a month-long surge continued in the country third-worst hit by the global pandemic.

India’s richest state, Maharashtra, accounted for more than half of the 89,129 new infections reported by the national health ministry in the last 24 hours, with a record 47,827 cases.

The state’s chief minister warned citizens of a lockdown if cases continued to surge at their current rate, noting that medical infrastructure would be inadequate in a couple of weeks.

In the southern state of Karnataka, home to India’s tech capital Bengaluru, authorities ordered gyms to be shut down, barred functions at religious places and told pubs, restaurants, cinema halls and bars to limit the number of people allowed in.

India’s capital, New Delhi registered over 3,500 infections, its highest this year, but its chief minister ruled out another lockdown for the time being.

Daily COVID-19 cases have surged from around 15,000 in early March to 88,000 or so at the start of April.

The south Asian nation recorded 89,129 new cases and 714 deaths, the ministry said. That was the biggest daily rise since Sept. 20 and the most deaths since Oct. 21, according to a Reuters tally.

India follows only the United States and Brazil in infections, with more than 12 million recorded since the start of the outbreak.

The government has intensified its inoculation drive in recent weeks, but the doses have been slow to reach India’s 1.3 billion people.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has come under fire for exporting vaccines produced in India when most Indians are yet to get them.

  • Reuters