NEW DELHI

India recorded over 200,000 coronavirus cases in a single day for the first time since the start of the pandemic, taking the country’s tally to over 14 million.  

According to figures released Thursday by the Health Ministry, a total of 206,793 cases were registered, which pushed the country’s total to 14.07 million. Another 1,038 coronavirus fatalities were also recorded, taking the number of virus-related deaths in the country to 173,123. 

India has seen a massive increase in daily cases in the last few weeks, prompting many cities in the country to announce restrictions to curb the spread of the disease, although the federal government has said there will not be a nationwide lockdown. 

According to the statistics, the nation’s capital New Delhi recorded 17,282 cases over the past 24 hours — the highest single-day figure so far. With more fatalities reported in New Delhi, there has been a huge burden on crematoriums and burial grounds in the city. 

Due to the rise in cases, there has been huge stress on the health infrastructure, with many areas reporting shortages of beds and oxygen cylinders. 

Earlier this month, India’s daily virus cases surpassed 100,000 for the first time since the pandemic began last year. In September, the country reached an all-time high of around 98,000 cases, but then infections began to decline until the end of January, when they started increasing again. 

The western state of Maharashtra imposed tough restrictions for the next 15 days from Wednesday evening, with authorities only allowing essential activities in the worst affected state. 

Despite a massive surge in cases, tens of thousands of people gathered Wednesday in northern Uttarakhand state for the auspicious bathing day of Shahi Snan during the Kumbh Mela Hindu religious festival. Experts fear that the number of cases could rise as there has been less implementation of COVID-19 measures during the festival. 

India is currently the second most affected country globally in terms of cases after the US. 

The country launched its vaccination drive on Jan. 16 this year. According to official figures, over 100 million vaccine doses have been administered so far. The Indian government this week also approved Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine for emergency use authorization. 

Experts in India say that people’s disregard of social distancing rules and the wearing of masks has contributed to the ongoing surge.

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