The Centre on Friday told the states that the surge in coronavirus cases was largely because people were not strictly observing safety norms, and directed them to address this problem, ANI reported.

Union Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla, in his letter to the chief secretaries of the states, said that coronavirus cases in the country were increasing after steadily declining for nearly five months. He added that people were being especially careless in taking precautions in crowded places.

Bhalla directed the states to strictly enforce Covid-appropriate behaviour like wearing masks and maintaining adequate distance from others, keeping in mind the resurgence of infections and upcoming festivals.

The official asked the states to create public awareness about taking precautions against the infection. “Necessary guidelines issued by the respective state governments/UT [Union Territory] administrations in this regard should be widely disseminated to the public and field functionaries for implementation,” he added.

India’s coronavirus tally on Saturday reached 1,12,70,231 after 40,953 new infections were registered in the last 24 hours. There are 2,88,394 active cases and 1,11,07,332 people have recovered so far. As many as 188 more fatalities, pushed the toll to 1,59,558.

Also read: Coronavirus: India records 39,726 cases – highest daily infection count in over three months

Maharashtra has been one of the top contributors to India’s coronavirus surge. The state registered 25,681 new cases on Friday night, taking its overall count to 24,22,021. The toll rose to 53,208, as 70 more people died of the infection. The active cases in the state stood at 1,77,560.

Mumbai registered 3,062 new cases on Friday – its highest single-day spike since the outbreak of the pandemic.

Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray said earlier in the day that the imposition of lockdown was an option to control the surge in cases. The state government also announced a new set of curbs to combat the rising cases. All offices, cinema halls and auditoriums in the state will operate with 50% attendance till March 31. Shopping malls will only allow entry to visitors wearing masks.

Meanwhile, Delhi reported 716 new cases on Friday – its highest one-day count this year. The Capital’s tally went up to 6,46,348. Its toll rose to 10,953 with four more fatalities.

Super-spreader events behind surge, finds government panel

A government panel has found in its preliminary assessment that super-spreader events like weddings seem to be responsible for the sharp increase in cases in the country, Hindustan Times reported.

“That [role of superspreader events] is what it looks like, as people have become lax in their behaviour, NITI Aayog member (health) VK Paul was quoted as saying by the newspaper. “We must understand that there is still a large section of population that is vulnerable, especially in village.”

Paul added that people must avoid large gatherings amid the rise in infections. “We cannot afford to lower our guard at this stage,” he added.