Record Cases in Mumbai & Delhi, Fresh Curbs Across States as India Battles Omicron Deluge

India registered yet another peak of coronavirus cases on Thursday, with Mumbai and Delhi setting records unseen even during the deadly second wave of the pandemic amid a raging Omicron variant.

India’s tally of active Covid-19 cases climbed to 2, 85, 401, with five states — Maharashtra, West Bengal, Delhi, Tamil Nadu and Kerala — accounting for 66.97 per cent of the 90,928 new cases reported on Thursday.

The situation seemed alarming in Mumbai, which recorded a 33 per cent hike in daily cases compared to a day ago with over 20,000 Covid-19 infections in 24 hours for the first time since the outbreak of the pandemic. Four related deaths were also recorded in the same period.

The slum-dominated and densely populated Dharavi area of Mumbai on Thursday recorded 107 new coronavirus cases, highest since the pandemic began, civic officials said. The previous record of daily cases in the area was 99, recorded on April 8, 2021.

Maharashtra is also leading the Omicron tally in India and concerns are being raised over the third wave of the virus as more doctors and health workers test positive.

The situation was no different in Delhi, which recorded 15,097 fresh Covid cases, the highest single-day rise since May 8, and six deaths while the positivity rate mounted to 15.34 per cent, according to data shared by the city health department.

This rise is the highest since May 8, 2021 when 17,364 cases were reported with a positivity rate of 23.34 per cent. As many as 332 deaths were also recorded on that day.

Amid the spike, Additional Secretary of Union Health Ministry Arti Ahuja pointed out in a letter about considerable decline in Covid-19 testing amid rising cases and positivity rate in Tamil Nadu, Punjab, Odisha, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Mizoram, Meghalaya, Jammu and Kashmir and Bihar, and said it is a “cause of concern”.

Fresh curbs introduced

Amid rising Covid cases, the Chandigarh administration on Thursday decided to impose night curfew in the Union Territory from Friday and also shut all educational institutions including schools, colleges, universities and coaching classes, officials said, according to news agency PTI. According to an official order, under the night curfew, movement of individuals for all non-essential activities will remain prohibited between 10 pm to 5 am. The new curbs come into force with effect from January 7 and will be applicable until further notice, the order said.

However, essential activities including emergency services, medical health, transport of essential goods, operation of multiple shifts in industries, offices (both government and private), movement of persons and goods on national and state highways and unloading of cargo and travel of persons to their destinations after disembarking from buses, trains and airplanes will be permitted.

The Puducherry administration has imposed in addition to existing restrictions, several curbs to contain the spread of COVID-19 in the Union Territory. Secretary to government (Relief and Rehabilitation) and member Secretary of the State Executive Committee, Ashok Kumar said in a release on Thursday that in view of a surge in Omicron variant cases in the country and existing threat of third wave of COVID 19 in Puducherry, the territorial government has enforced with immediate effect additional restrictions which would be in force till midnight of January 31.The government had extended lockdown on December 30 with several curbs. The spike in Omicron variant cases in the country and the existing threat of third wave of Covid 19 in Puducherry has necessitated clamping of additional restrictions, he said.

He said malls, market complexes and shops should ensure that customers not exceeding 50 per cent of the capacity of the complexes alone are permitted with adequate ventilation on the premises.The official said that intra and inter district public transport services would be allowed to operate with 50 percent seating capacity.

Cinema halls and multiplexes are permitted to operate with 50 per cent occupancy by strictly adhering to COVID protocols. Similarly restaurants, hotels, bars, liquor shops or hospitality sector establishments are permitted to function with 50 per cent customers at a time. The same restriction on the cap of customers is applicable to beauty parlours, salons and spas, exhibitions, auditorium and galleries, gymnasium and yoga training centres.

Manipur, too, made it mandatory to carry Covid-19 negative certificate for travel in the state.

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