India has reported a record number of daily deaths from the coronavirus, as over 2,000 new fatalities were recorded in data reported by the government on Wednesday morning.
The country saw nearly 3 lakh fresh cases in the last 24 hours, taking the total tally to 21,57,538 in the world’s second-worst infected country, according to the Health Ministry’s update as of 8 a.m. on April 21.
New infections have been exceeding single-day recoveries since March 11, causing the active cases to cross 21 lakh. That accounted for nearly 14% of the total caseload. The South Asian nation with 130 crore people is only behind the U.S. in the number of confirmed infections.
India has been reporting a record spike in coronavirus cases for two weeks even as the government accelerated its vaccination drive to fight the world’s fastest-growing second wave of infections.
In the latest outbreaks, while Maharashtra remained the epicentre, states such as Delhi, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Karnataka, Chhattisgarh, Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Punjab and Madhya Pradesh are also witnessing a surge in cases.
Maharashtra further tightened Covid-19 restrictions in the state such as limiting all groceries, vegetables and fruit vendors, dairies, meat and all other food shops to open only between 7 a.m. and 11 a.m. Shops related to agricultural implements and farm produce, pet food, materials for impending rainy season, too, will be open only between 7 a.m. and 11 a.m. Home delivery from these said shops may be allowed between 7 a.m. and 8 p.m.
Delhi, too, has imposed a lockdown from 10 p.m. on April 19 till April 26 morning, allowing only essential services. The lockdown period will be used to arrange more hospital beds, procure oxygen and medicines, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal has said.
The Allahabad High Court had also imposed a lockdown in Prayagraj, Lucknow, Varanasi, Kanpur and Gorakhpur till April 26, but the decision has been stayed by the Supreme Court after the Uttar Pradesh government challenged the move.
Meanwhile, India will open up Covid-19 vaccinations to everyone above 18 years of age from May 1, under the third phase of its immunisation drive. The country plans to cover about 25 crore people with two doses by July.