The Indian state of Maharashtra, home to the financial capital Mumbai and more than 100 million people, introduced sweeping restrictions on the public and businesses as the country’s daily workload for Covid-19 neared a record high.
India reported 93,000 new cases of Covid-19 on Saturday, recording the highest number of daily infections in the world. It is rapidly approaching its previous peak of nearly 100,000 daily cases in September.
The country recorded more than 500 deaths on Saturday, up from 100 or less in early March.
Maharashtra led the resurgence, with more than 57,000 new infections announced on Sunday, and the cause of many deaths. The Western state is India’s economic powerhouse, accounting for 14% of gross domestic product, according to research firm Capital Economics.
Restrictions in Maharashtra include a nighttime curfew and weekend lockdown, while all stores except essential stores must close. Most private offices will close, restaurants will only be available for take-out, and public gatherings have been curtailed.
The state introduced the measures amid fears that health systems could be submerged by the surge.
India’s second wave threatens to roll back budding recovery of what had been one of the world’s fastest growing major economies before the pandemic.
The Reserve Bank of India expects India’s economy to grow 10.5% in the 12 months ending March 2022 after a painful contraction the year before.
But the outbreak is a “growing threat,” according to Capital Economics. Writing before the latest announcement, the firm said sweeping restrictions “will seriously hamper economic recovery.”
Nomura believes a second wave of deterioration will weigh on growth, although she expects the impact of localized measures to be limited compared to last year’s strict nationwide lockdown.
The second wave in India, a major exporter of vaccines, also has potentially global ramifications for Covid-19 vaccine supplies.
Officials in India said last month that they were “calibrationHow much supply would be available for export and were purchasing much of the domestic production as they sought to speed up inoculations at home.
India, which exported more doses than it gave into the country, this month opened vaccination to anyone over the age of 45.
A sharp nationwide drop in Covid-19 infections between September and February, when India recorded just 10,000 new cases per day, allowed the country’s authorities to lift most of the lockdown restrictions remaining.
But the speed at which the new wave has increased alarmed health experts concerned about the presence of new strains of the virus in the country. Authorities have confirmed the detection of the “worrying” variants first identified in the UK, South Africa and Brazil.
Health officials also announced last month the discovery of a new ‘double mutant’ variant in Maharashtra, although they warned it was premature to attribute the surge to the presence of the new strains.