India's daily virus cases soar past 100,000 for first time
NEW DELHI (AP) — India reported its biggest single-day spike in confirmed coronavirus cases since the pandemic began Monday, and officials in the hard-hit state home to Mumbai are returning to the closure of some businesses and places of worship in a bid to slow the spread.
The Health Ministry reported 103,558 new COVID-19 infections in the last 24 hours, topping the previous peak of 97,894 daily cases recorded in late September. Fatalities rose by 478, raising the country's death toll to 165,101.
India now has a seven-day rolling average of more than 73,000 cases per day and infections in the country are being reported faster than anywhere else in the world.
The biggest contributor to the surge has been the western state of Maharashtra, home to the commercial capital of Mumbai. The state has contributed more than 55% of total cases in the country in the last two weeks.
The state will start shutting cinemas, restaurants, shopping malls and places of worship from Monday evening. Authorities will also impose a complete lockdown at weekends.
Infections had receded in India for several months but started to rise again in late February. Since then, new cases have increased more than tenfold.
India has confirmed a new and potentially troublesome variant of the virus, but officials have cautioned against linking that or other variants to the surge.
Experts say the surge is blamed in part on growing disregard for social distancing and mask-wearing in public spaces, including public gatherings. Some say the government has been sending mixed messages.
As health officials continue to warn of gatherings in public places, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his party leaders continue to hold mammoth rallies in several states where local elections are underway.