New Delhi, Mar 29 (efe-epa).- Hindu revelers across India threw colored powder and water at each other in massive Holi celebrations Monday to welcome the onset of the spring season as the second wave tightened its grip on the country.
The country, third-worst affected by the virus after the United States and Brazil, crossed 12 million Covid-19 infections after registering the highest daily cases in more than six months on Monday.
Health authorities detected a total of 68,020 new coronavirus cases in the last 24 hours, said the health ministry, the highest daily rise since mid-October.
The country has been reporting more than 60,000 cases each day for the past several days now.
The figure is fast reaching the 100,000-mark of daily infections when the pandemic was at its previous peak in September last year.
The number of cases has risen steeply for several weeks after a low of less than 10,000 daily infections in February.
The surge comes as the government is racing against the time to inoculate its 1.35 billion people,
On Monday, the health authorities also reported 291 new deaths, mounting the virus toll to 161,843.
The surge is mostly from eight of the 36 states that account for almost 85 percent of all India cases.
Most of the new cases are from the western state of Maharashtra, whose capital is Mumbai.
The state reported 40,414 new positives cases and 108 deaths in the last 24 hours, the health ministry said.
Experts blame the relaxed attitude of the people for the second wave, which is spreading the infection faster than the first one.
People have been gathering across the country and have generally lowered the anti-covid guard even as most of the Indians are yet to be inoculated.
The surge coincides with ongoing multi-phase regional elections marked by large gatherings and roadshows, and festivities, including the Holi, celebrated on Monday.
The annual Kumbh Mela celebrated in northern Haridwar city has also been going on for weeks that has seen tens of thousands of Hindu devotees daily taking a holy dip in the Ganges river.
The Indian government Monday said it had vaccinated around 60 million people. Some nine million of them have received both doses of vaccine so far.
The figure is still far from the goal of immunizing 300 million people by mid-year. EFE-EPA