A woman wearing a protective mask walks past a graffiti amidst the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) on a street in Navi Mumbai, India. File/ Reuters
India reported 24,492 new coronavirus cases on Tuesday, the sixth straight day of more than 20,000 infections, as curbs to try to stop the spread of COVID-19 were expanded in parts of the country that have recorded a surge.
Total cases have now risen to 11.41 million, the highest in the world after the United States and Brazil. Deaths increased by 131 to 158,856 in the past 24 hours, data from the health ministry showed.
The government has blamed crowding and a general reluctance to wear masks for the spike, ruling out mutations of the virus as a factor, unlike in the West.
India’s worst affected state, Maharashtra, on Monday ordered cinemas, hotels and restaurants to limit guests to half of capacity until the end of the month. Weddings and other social events will also have limited attendance.
Maharashtra has also locked down some districts.
Another western state, Gujarat, has also decided to not allow fans into the world’s biggest cricket stadium hosting international matches between India and England, after seeing a spurt in cases.
The initial matches were attended by tens of thousands of people sitting or standing shoulder to shoulder, with few wearing masks, leading to widespread criticism on social media.
India has vaccinated nearly 26 million people since beginning its inoculation campaign in mid-January. The country aims to vaccinate 300 million of its 1.35 billion people by August.
India's coronavirus case load topped 7 million on Sunday and the country has added a million cases in just 13 days. It has the second-highest number of infections, behind the United States which is approaching the 8 million mark.
The second wave of virus infections continued to swell as it reported a record 115,736 new cases on Wednesday.
India has the world's second-highest caseload, but daily infections have dipped steadily since hitting a peak in September. Of its 9.74 million total cases, around 370,000 are active patients, currently infected with COVID-19.
"The situation is horrible. We are a 900-bed hospital, but there are about 60 patients waiting and we don't have space for them," said Avinash Gawande, an official at the Government Medical College and Hospital in Nagpur.
This decision excludes the parking zones that are subject to fees on all days of the week, including Fridays and public holidays. These zones are identified by the blue parking instructions signs.
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