India reported a record daily surge in new coronavirus cases for the second time in four days on Wednesday (April 7), while New Delhi, Mumbai, and dozens of other cities announced they are imposing curfews to try to slow the soaring infections.
The rise of 115,736 coronavirus cases reported in the past 24 hours, tops the 103,844 infections reported Sunday. Fatalities rose by 630 in the past 24 hours, the highest since November, driving the total death toll in the country to 166,177 since the pandemic began.
The federal government has so far refused to impose a nationwide lockdown to contain the latest surge but has asked states to decide on imposing local restrictions.
“The pandemic isn’t over and there is no scope for complacency,” Health Minister Harsh Vardhan said on Twitter. He urged people to get vaccinated.
India now has a seven-day rolling average of more than 78,000 cases per day and has reported 12.8 million virus cases since the pandemic began, the highest after the United States and Brazil.
While 85 million Indians have received at least one coronavirus vaccine shot, only 11 million of them have received both.
Due to a surge in infections, India has now delayed exports of large quantities of vaccines. It has shipped 64.5 million doses so far.
Experts say the surge, which is worse than last year’s peak in mid-September, is due in part on growing disregard for social distancing and mask-wearing in public spaces.
As health officials continue to warn about gatherings in public places, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his party leaders continue to hold mammoth rallies in several states where local elections are underway.
While on the campaign trail Tuesday in West Bengal state, Modi was seen waving at maskless supporters from his car.
His government has also allowed a huge monthlong Hindu festival that draws tens of thousands of devotees daily to go ahead on the banks of the Ganges River in northern Uttarakhand state.