India on Thursday reported the biggest daily increase in coronavirus cases since early December with 35,871 new infections, data from the health ministry showed. Total cases in the country have now risen to 1,14,74,605, the highest in the world after the United States and Brazil.

The single-day jump of 35,871 cases was the highest in 102 days, according to PTI. As many as 36,011 new infections were recorded on December 6. Deaths increased by 172 to 1,59,216 in the past 24 hours. As many as 1,10,63,025 people in India have recovered from the infection, while the active caseload surged to 2,52,364.

The country has recorded more than 20,000 infections for eight consecutive days now.

Meanwhile, the health ministry said that that the total number of cases with the United Kingdom, South Africa and Brazil variants of the virus stood at 400, ANI reported.

The five states of Maharashtra, Punjab, Karnataka, Gujarat and Tamil Nadu accounted for 79.54% of the new cases in the last 24 hours, the health ministry said in a release. As many as 18 states and Union Territories have not reported any deaths in the last 24 hours.

Since starting the vaccination drive in mid-January, India has administered over 3.71 crore vaccine doses, the health ministry said. More than 20 lakh shots were given on Wednesday.

According to the Indian Council of Medical Research, 23,03,13,163 samples were tested up to March 17. Of these, 10,63,379 were tested on Wednesday.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday told state chief ministers that they need to take quick and decisive steps soon to stop an emerging second peak of coronavirus infections. “If we don’t stop this pandemic right now, then there could be a nationwide outbreak,” he said at a virtual meeting. “We do not have to create panic among people but need to take some initiatives to help people.”

India’s worst affected state, Maharashtra, on Wednesday registered 23,179 new coronavirus cases – its highest one-day rise in infections this year. Mumbai reported 2,377 new cases in the day – a huge jump compared to the 1,992 cases it recorded on Tuesday and the highest one-day rise this year.

At a press briefing, Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan said that about 6.5% of coronavirus vaccine doses in India are going to waste. Telangana, Andhra Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh have seen the highest wastage, the government said.

State updates

  1. Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on Thursday announced that the night curfew timingsin the districts of Ludhiana, Jalandhar, Patiala, Mohali, Amritsar, Gurdaspur, Hoshiarpur, Kapurthala and Ropar will be in effect from 9 pm to 5 am, ANI reported. Earlier the restrictions were in place from 11 pm to 5 am. All of these districts have been reporting more than 100 daily cases, Singh said.  
  2. Singh, however, said that he was not in favour of restricting movement of people from the state to Himachal Pradesh for religious purposes. Singh said he did not receive any formal communication from Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur to stop movement yet, even though he saw media reports about it.    
  3. The district administration in Karnataka’s Udupi declared the campus of engineering college Manipal Institute of Technology a containment zone after 52 cases were reported in the last two days, The News Minute reported.
  4. Police have registered a First Information Report against Mumbai’s popular restaurant AuberGin Plates and Pours, in Breach Candy area, PTI reported. The restaurant was not maintaining the guideline of 50% capacity and customers were not wearing masks or maintaining physical distancing, an official of civic body Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation said.
  5. Subhash Salunkhe, an advisor to the Maharashtra government, has tested positive for coronavirus, The Indian Express reported on Thursday. He had taken two doses of the Covishield vaccine, with the final jab being administered on February 22.

Global updates

  1. Globally, the coronavirus has infected more than 12.11 crore people and killed over 26.80 lakh, according to the John Hopkins University. Over 6.86 crore people have recovered from the infection in the world.
  2. World Health Organization experts recommended countries continue to use the AstraZeneca vaccine, reported AFP. “At this time, WHO considers that the benefits of the AstraZeneca vaccine outweigh its risks and recommends that vaccinations continue,” the UN body said in a statement.
  3. Meanwhile, the United Nations said the virus is likely to develop into a seasonal disease, AFP reported. However, it warned against relaxing pandemic-related restrictions based on meteorological factors. A 16-member team set by the UN World Meteorological Organization pointed out that respiratory viral infections are often seasonal, “in particular the autumn-winter peak for influenza and cold-causing coronaviruses in temperate climates”.