Second wave tightens grip on India with 36,000 new Covid-19 infections

New Delhi, Mar 18 (efe-epa).- India reported a big jump in daily coronavirus infections as health authorities Thursday recorded nearly 36,000 new Covid-19 cases, the worst rise since early December.

The growing number of daily cases indicates that the second Covid-19 wave is strengthening its grip on the third-worst affected country in the run-up to measure Indian festivals like Holi.

With 35,871 new cases, India’s total caseload stood at 11.47 million, behind only the United States (30.2 million) and Brazil (11.7 million).

According to the health ministry data, the disease claimed 172 more lives in India in the last 24 hours from Sunday.

The overall India toll due to the virus now stands at 159,216, the health ministry said.

The country, which in the middle of the world’s largest anti-coronavirus inoculation drive, registered more than 35,000 daily infections for the first time since early December.

The number of daily cases has been rising for the past few weeks.

It came after months of an optimism triggered by a steady decline since a peak in September when the country saw nearly 100,000 infections daily.

In February, health authorities recorded fewer than 10,000 cases.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday warned of the hike in the cases and stressed the need to arrest the second wave still in its initial phase.

The highest increase in the new infections was recorded in the western state of Maharashtra, whose capital is Mumbai.

The state recorded 23,179 new infections on Thursday, more than 63 percent of all the fresh cases on Thursday, according to the official data.

The government also reported that health officials have carried out more than 230 million coronavirus tests so far.

The immunization drive launched in January has been progressing, with more than 37.1 million doses administered until Wednesday.

Some 6.5 million people have received their second doses.

However, the figure is still far from the government’s goal of immunizing 300 million Indians by mid-year.

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, which will be celebrated later this month to welcome the arrival of the spring season.

People play with colors and smear each other with colored powders and water on Holi. However, it is not clear as yet clear if the government will impose restrictions on the celebrations.

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