India’s worst-hit state ramped up its COVID-19 restrictions as nationwide the daily infections yesterday exceeded 100,000 for the first time.
The US is the only nation that has regularly registered so many cases in one day. Brazil recorded triple digits once last month. In India, hopes at the start of the year that the outbreak might be subsiding in the nation of 1.3 billion people have been dashed in recent weeks as a fresh wave pushed the national total to 12.5 million infections and 165,000 deaths.
Maharashtra, the worst-hit state and home to Mumbai, India’s financial and entertainment capital, recorded nearly 60,000 cases in the past 24 hours.
Struggling state authorities on Sunday tightened the evening curfew to allow only people involved in essential services out of their homes from 8pm to 7am.
The region of 110 million people would also see weekend lockdowns, with gatherings of more than 400 people banned and places of worship and restaurants shut.
In Mumbai over the weekend, one of Bollywood’s biggest stars, Akshay Kumar, became the latest celebrity to test positive.
Shooting of the religious epic Ram Setu that Kumar was making was yesterday halted after 45 crew members also tested positive.
“How long shooting remains halted depends on Akshay Kumar’s recovery. We can replace all our crew members, but we cannot replace the star of the film,” Ashok Dubey from the Federation of Western India Cine Employees said.
In New Delhi, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal has ruled out a new lockdown, despite the surge in cases.
Police said they are issuing more fines to people not wearing masks.
Authorities in the Philippines yesterday extended a lockdown by another week after an alarming spike in COVID-19 infections continued to surge and started to overwhelm many hospitals in the capital and outlying regions.
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte placed Metropolitan Manila and four outlying provinces, a region of more than 25 million people, under lockdown last week as daily infections breached 10,000.
Roman Catholic leaders shifted Holy Week and Easter events online after all public gatherings, including in places of worship, were temporarily banned.
The government-run Lung Center of the Philippines became the latest hospital in the capital region to announce over the weekend that it could no longer accept walk-in patients after its COVID-19 ward reached full capacity and its emergency room was handling twice its capacity.
“We are not just full. We are very full. In fact, the hospital has been full for the past two weeks,” Lung Center spokesman Norberto Francisco said.
Other hospitals said they could expand bed capacity, but lacked medical workers partly because many had been infected.
Duterte’s administration has increasingly faced criticism of mishandling the pandemic, but presidential spokesman Harry Roque said that the spread of more infectious COVID-19 variants came as a surprise.
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