India’s second wave gains momentum as coronavirus infections surge to three-month high

India’s coronavirus infections surged to more than a three-month high on Friday, as a second wave of cases continued to mount quickly.

Public failure to abide by distancing precautions has been blamed for a rapid resurgence of Covid-19, with the state of Maharashtra particularly badly hit.

The country reported a daily toll of nearly 40,000 new infections, with 65 per cent of those coming from the Western state.

The world’s second most populous nation endured a lengthy surge of cases last summer which has left it one of the most badly affected nations on the planet. That wave subsided at the end of the year, but cases have now begun to spike again rapidly.

India has become the world’s vaccine production powerhouse in the struggle against the pandemic and its own domestic jab roll out has gained momentum in recent weeks. But the sheer scale of its 1.3bn population means vaccination levels are currently way off being able to curb a new wave.

Since starting the campaign in mid-January, India has administered more than 39 million doses.

Narendra Modi, the prime minister, this week urged all state leaders to scale up the ongoing nationwide vaccination campaign aimed at inoculating 300 million people by August.

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

Health officials warn that wards are again filling quickly in Maharashtra, which is India’s wealthiest state and includes the city of Mumbai.

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