India's caseload has soared, with almost two million fresh infections this month. AFP/Punit Paranjpe
MUMBAI - India's daily coronavirus caseload has doubled in 10 days, with a record 200,000 new infections logged on Thursday as authorities grapple with shortages of vaccines, treatments and hospital beds.
Having let its guard down with mass religious festivals, political rallies and crowds at cricket matches, India is experiencing a vicious second wave, recording almost two million fresh infections this month alone.
This week, it overtook Brazil to become the country with the second-highest number of cases worldwide, after the United States.
In the past day it also recorded over 1,000 deaths, health ministry data showed, taking its total to 175,000, although on a per-capita basis India is far behind many other countries.
After a nationwide lockdown a year ago caused widespread misery and one of the sharpest downturns of any major economy, the government is desperate to avoid repeating the hugely unpopular shutdown.
But many states are tightening the screws, in particular Maharashtra and its capital Mumbai, which this week introduced tougher restrictions for its 125 million people.
This has prompted many migrant workers to flee Mumbai and other cities in the state, in scenes reminiscent of the exodus last year when the government halted all activity almost overnight.
The government in New Delhi announced fresh restrictions Thursday, imposing a weekend curfew and ordering shopping malls, gyms and spas to stay shut from Friday evening.
The megacity of around 25 million inhabitants recorded over 17,000 fresh cases on Wednesday, its highest single-day tally since the pandemic began.
Uttar Pradesh, a sprawling state in northern India with a population of more than 240 million, also imposed curfews in major cities as it scrambled to control a recent surge in cases.
Hospitals around India are now struggling to cope, running short of beds, oxygen and coronavirus medicines like Remdesivir.