India’s daily COVID-19 cases jumped by 28,903 on Wednesday, data from the health ministry showed the highest increase since December 13 and taking the total to 11.44 million.
Deaths swelled from 188 to 159,044. The restrictions to curb the spread of COVID-19 were expanded in parts of the country that have recorded a surge on Wednesday.
Nearly 62% of infections in the past 24 hours and 46% of the deaths were reported by the western state of Maharashtra, the country’s worst affected.
The federal government has blamed crowding and a general reluctance to wear masks for the spike, ruling out the virus mutations that have been a factor in Western countries.
Maharashtra, home to India’s commercial capital of Mumbai, is among the states that have already tightened rules to curb the spread of the virus.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi will discuss the rise in cases in a video conference with state chief ministers later on Wednesday.
After India reported 24,492 new coronavirus cases on Tuesday, the restrictions to curb the spread of COVID-19 were expanded in parts of the country that have recorded a surge.
Total cases have now risen to 11.41 million, the highest in the world after the United States and Brazil.
Deaths increased by 131 to 158,856 in the past 24 hours, data from the health ministry showed.
The government has blamed crowding and a general reluctance to wear masks for the spike, ruling out mutations of the virus as a factor, unlike in the West.
India’s worst affected state, Maharashtra, on Monday ordered cinemas, hotels, and restaurants to limit guests to half of the capacity until the end of the month. Weddings and other social events will also have limited attendance.
Maharashtra has also locked down some districts. Another western state, Gujarat, has also decided to not allow fans into the world’s biggest cricket stadium hosting international matches here between India and England, after seeing a spurt in cases.
The initial matches were attended by tens of thousands of people sitting or standing shoulder to shoulder, with few wearing masks, leading to widespread criticism on social media.—AP