Mumbai in lockdown as Indian vaccines run short

COVID-19 numbers in India continue to surge. The south Asian country has recorded nearly 132,000 new cases in the last 24 hours, the highest daily number in that country since the pandemic struck. Marcelle Gordon spoke to eNCA correspondent Rebecca Bundhun. Courtesy #DStv403

MUMBAI - India's coronavirus epicentre Maharashtra went into a state-wide weekend lockdown on Saturday as the country battled exploding infection numbers and shortages of vaccines, drugs and hospital beds.

Having let its guard down with mass religious festivals, political rallies and spectators at cricket matches, India is experiencing a ferocious new wave with around a million new cases in the past week.

After a lockdown a year ago caused widespread misery and one of the sharpest downturns of any major economy, the central government is desperate to avoid a hugely unpopular second shutdown.

READ: India suffers vaccine shortages as virus surges

But many states are tightening the screw, in particular Maharashtra and its capital Mumbai, where restaurants are shut and public gatherings of more than five people are banned.

Every weekend until the end of April the state's 125 million people are confined to their homes unless shopping for food, medicine or travelling.

With the country grappling with the new surge, cricket is now being played behind closed doors -- including the big-bucks Indian Premier League, which began Friday -- and in many regions including in New Delhi and Bangalore a night curfew is in force.

READ: India tightens screws as COVID-19 infections hit new record

India's drive to vaccinate its 1.3 billion people also looks to be hitting problems, with just 94 million shots administered so far and stocks running low, according to local authorities.

In megacity Mumbai, all 72 private vaccination centres were shut until Tuesday while opening hours were reduced at government and municipal centres, authorities said.

On Saturday, India reported 145,000 new cases, a new record taking the total to 13.2 million with 170,000 deaths. Per-capita rates are lower than many other nations however.


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