03/24/2021, 15.21
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New COVID-19 surge in Mumbai

India reports a jump in cases and deaths to levels not seen since last autumn, especially in Maharashtra. The central government is calling on states to put restrictions on gatherings for  the Hindu festival of Holi in the most affected states. Meanwhile, two local variants of the coronavirus have been identified, which might have already spread.

Mumbai (AsiaNews) – A new COVID-19 wave has reached India and is surging. Concern is also mounting over the discovery of two new local variants of the coronavirus, which might have already spread.

After the case load and deaths dropped in February, some thought that India might have reached widespread immunity; however, the latest trends show a different picture, with the pandemic reaching new highs every day.

Yesterday 47,262 cases were reported nation-wide, a figure not seen since November, with 275 deaths in the last 24 hours, the highest since the start of the year. In total, 160,441 people have died in India since the pandemic began.

As in previous waves, Maharashtra is the most affected, with more than half of the new cases. Mumbai alone reported 5,000 new cases today, forcing the authorities to impose new localised lockdowns.

The pandemic, however, has not spared other Indian states, such as Punjab, Karnataka, Chhattisgarh and Kerala. In light of this, India’s central government has called on the authorities in the hardest-hit states to place restrictions on large gatherings during the upcoming Hindu festival of Holi.

The federal Health Ministry is also warning that two local variants of the coronavirus have been identified in the country by the Indian SARS-CoV-2 Consortium on Genomics.

What is worrying many is the fact that these variants are even more contagious than the original virus, with serious symptoms, and have likely already spread,

According to the Health Ministry, testing in Maharashtra indicates that variants represent 15-20 per cent of all new cases, although it is not yet clear whether the surge in cases is related to these variants.

So far, more than 50 million people have been vaccinated across the country. However, complaints have been made over delays and shortages in some regions, just as India continues to export vaccines to more than 70 countries.

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