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India reports new record of 103,558 daily Covid cases, as second wave and new lockdowns hit

April 5, 2021. Summarized by summa-bot.

Compression ratio: 20.5%. 2 min read.

NEW DELHI, INDIA - APRIL 3: A health worker in PPE coveralls collects a swab sample from a traveller for Covid-19 testing at Anand Vihar Bus Terminal (ISBT), on April 3, 2021 in New Delhi, India. (Photo by Sanchit Khanna/Hindustan Times via Getty Images)

A familiar scene is taking place across India. In large cities, hospital beds are filling up with Covid-19 patients. Warehouses, unused trains and large public spaces are being converted into makeshift treatment centers. And restrictions are clamping back down, with new lockdowns in place.

India has plunged into its second wave -- and this time, with new variants, fatigue setting in among the population, and several massive religious gatherings taking place, it threatens to be worse than the first one.

The country recorded 103,558 new cases on Monday, according to the Indian Ministry of Health -- the highest single-day figure since the beginning of the pandemic.

"Covid cases in India are rising very sharply at this time, very different from a year ago when the rate of increase seemed a lot less rapid," said Ramanan Laxminarayan of the Center for Disease Dynamics, Economics and Policy in New Delhi.

One major difference is that when the first wave began rising in late spring last year, the country was just emerging from a months-long lockdown that had closed state borders, shut down national travel, and brought businesses to a halt.

The western state of Maharashtra is the main concern, accounting for nearly 60% of all of India's new cases over the last two weeks, officials said.

Modi also directed a team of public health specialists to be sent to Maharashtra, instructing hard-hit states to take action so that "the collective gains of Covid-19 management in the country in the last 15 months are not squandered," said the release.

Maharashtra also has a high level of statewide testing and a good health system, which could mean it's better at detecting cases than in other parts of the country, said Laxminarayan.

"You see this consistently, that states with better health systems and with more urbanized populations will see more Covid cases," he said.

More than 770 cases of "variants of concern" have been identified in India as of late March, according to the country's health ministry.

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