New coronavirus infections in India hit a record 184,372 in the past 24 hours, data from the Ministry of Health showed, as most countries in South Asia battle a second, more vicious increase in case.
The number of infections nationwide is 13.9 million, with data on Wednesday showing deaths increased by 1,027, bringing the death toll to 172,085.
After reporting fewer than 10,000 cases a day earlier this year, India has been the worst-affected country in the world since April 2 with new cases daily.
The country is currently reporting around double the daily cases in the United States and Brazil, the other two most affected countries, although its daily death toll is lower.
Total infections in India rank after just the United States, after overtaking Brazil on Monday.
The Hindu festival continues
Yet hundreds of thousands of devout Hindus gathered to bathe in the Ganges on Wednesday, the third key day of the week-long Kumbh Mela, or pitcher festival.
Sanjay Gunjyal, the festival’s inspector general of police, said about 650,000 people bathed on Wednesday morning.
“People are fined for not following social distancing in uncrowded ghats (swimming areas), but it is very difficult to fine people in the main ghats, which are very crowded,” he said. he declared.
There was little evidence of social distancing or wearing a mask, according to the witness at a Reuters news agency.
More than a thousand cases have been reported in Haridwar district in the past two days, according to government data.
Similar concerns about an increase in the number of cases were sparked by mass election rallies by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s party and opposition groups in polls in four states and one federally-led region.
At a rally in the state of West Bengal, a key political prize, Home Secretary Amit Shah posted photos of meetings with crowds of supporters without masks on Twitter.
Rising infections in India, for which Health Minister Harsh Vardhan has acknowledged widespread disregard of restrictions on movement and social interaction, has prompted the government to cancel huge public events.
Restrictions in Maharashtra
As the situation continues to deteriorate, many states have announced restrictions to curb the spread of the disease.
India’s richest state Maharashtra, home to India’s financial capital Mumbai and the epicenter of the second national wave, accounts for about a quarter of the country’s cases.
The state is to impose strict restrictions from Wednesday in an attempt to contain the spread of the disease.
Chief State Minister Uddhav Thackeray on Tuesday ordered most establishments and public places in the state to be closed for 15 days, except for those deemed essential, including grocery stores, hospitals , banks and stock exchanges.
“All factories / industries” with the exception of some export-oriented units and those which manufacture items necessary for essential services “must shut down their operations,” according to a government notification.
The restrictions will shake up businesses in Maharashtra but may also have a wider effect on the Indian economy. The state accounts for nearly 15% of India’s gross domestic product, making it crucial for the country’s economic recovery after months of slowdown.
Elsewhere, overcrowded private hospitals turn away patients, increasing the burden on public facilities.
In the western state of Gujurat, local media showed a long line of ambulances waiting outside Ahmedabad Civil Hospital, with some patients being treated there while they waited.
A hospital source, who declined to be named because he is not authorized to speak publicly, said this was due to many private hospitals running low on oxygen and sending their patients to the public hospital.
In Raipur, the state capital of Chhattisgarh known for its large tribal population, the mortuary at the main government hospital was struggling to keep pace, joint director Dr Vineet Jain said.
“All oxygen beds and intensive care beds are full in our setup,” he told Reuters on Tuesday.
“About fifty corpses lay eggs, we are running out of space. Some private hospitals do not have space to keep the corpses, so they also send the bodies to us. “