India records 40,000 new Covid-19 cases, highest daily in 4 months

New Delhi, Mar 19 (efe-epa).- India Friday recorded nearly 40,000 new Covid-19 infections, the highest daily figure in the last four months as the worrying spike sparked fears about a dangerous second-wave of the virus outbreak.

The federal health ministry said officials detected 39,726 new daily cases in the last 24 hours from Thursday morning.

Most of these infections, 25,833, were discovered in the western state of Maharashtra, whose capital is Mumbai.

Punjab in the north followed at a distant second with 2,369 while the southern state of Kerala reported 1,899 new cases.

The government warned against protocol violations as the second covid wave further tightened its grip across the country.

The overall Covid-19 tally has risen to 11.5 million in the third worst-hit country after the United States (30.35 million) and Brazil (11.78 million).

The ministry said the virus claimed at least 154 lives in the past 24 hours that took the total number of deaths to 159,370, the fourth highest after the US (552,470), Brazil (287,795), and Mexico (196,606).

India’s total active caseload stands at 271,282, after a spike of 18,918 active infections in the last 24 hours.

The federal government said it was “actively engaging” with regional administrations to ensure the status of containment and public health measures were regularly reviewed and implemented.

It said the states needed to increase the overall share of RT-PCR tests, especially in areas “dependent on high levels of antigen testing in line with the ‘test, track and treat’ strategy.”

It also advised the states to carry out an average close contact tracing of a minimum of 20 persons per positive case along with isolation and early treatment of serious cases.

Surveillance and stringent containment will be increased in the areas seeing case clusters.

The country of 1.35 billion people is in the middle of its immunization campaign launched in January.

As of Thursday, health workers had administered more than 39.3 million doses even as the government called for “accelerating the pace of vaccination” across the country.

Some 6.9 million people have received two doses of anti-Covid-19 vaccines, a figure far from the goal of the government’s target to immunize 300 million by mid-year.

“No one should have any doubts about the Covid-19 vaccines. I urge all to take the vaccine shots,” Federal Health Minister Harsh Vardhan said in parliament Friday.

The new wave is attributed in part to complacency regarding preventive measures taken by the people.

Most Indian markets, restaurants, parks, and other public places remain crowded by people not wearing face-masks.

The situation can worsen with the arrival of important festivals like Holi and Kumbh Mela when tens of thousands of Hindu devotees gather on the banks of the Ganges river.

The Kumbh festival kicked off on Mar.11 and will run until April end.

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