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Mumbai logs most COVID-19 cases since start of pandemic

A health worker collects a nasal swab sample from a child to test for the Covid-19 coronavirus at a residential area in Mumbai on March 18, 2021. -AFP

MUMBAI: India’s wealthiest state Maharashtra and its capital Mumbai recorded on Friday the most daily coronavirus cases since the pandemic began, stoking a new nationwide wave.

The Asian nation of 1.3 billion people was this month overtaken by Brazil as the country with the second most infections after cases dipped in December and January.

But recent weeks have seen an uptick, particularly in Maharashtra which on Friday reported a record 25,833 new cases, with financial capital and megacity Mumbai logging 2,877.

In total India recorded almost 40,000 new cases — almost double the rate of a week earlier — although still less than half the peak of almost 100,000 seen in September.

Several badly hit states including Maharashtra, Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh have imposed fresh restrictions such as curbs on movement and public gatherings in some cities.

However, major nationwide restrictions imposed during a months-long lockdown last year have mostly been lifted, with immense religious and political gatherings taking place.

“There is going to be no lockdown in the state,” Gujarat chief minister Vijay Rupani said on Thursday.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi told regional leaders earlier this week to step up efforts to contain the pandemic and to ramp up testing.

“We have to stop the emerging second peak of the pandemic through quick and decisive steps,” Modi told the virtual meeting.

“In recent weeks, some 70 districts have witnessed a more than 150 percent increase in the number of cases and if we do not stop the pandemic right now, it could lead to a nationwide outbreak.”

India has so far administered almost 40 million vaccines, with the aim of inoculating 300 million people by the end of July.

In total the country has recorded more than 11.5 million cases and almost 160,000 deaths.

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