India breaks record with COVID-19 cases, deaths


India reported another record number of new COVID-19 infections on Friday with daily deaths also hitting their highest in more than five months.

The world’s second most-populous country reported 131,968 new infections and 780 deaths on Friday, the biggest daily increase since mid-October.

That took India’s overall caseload to 13.06 million the world’s third-highest after the United States and Brazil and total deaths from COVID-19 to 167,642.

India’s total number of infections inched closer to Brazil’s 13.28 million.

With several states having expanded curbs to control the rapid spread of the virus, migrant workers have started packing into trains towards their villages from major cities such as Mumbai, potentially risking a wider outbreak in smaller towns.

The government blames the resurgence mainly on crowding and a reluctance to wear masks as businesses gradually reopened since the middle of last year.

“We all know that it’s because of the casual approach that has been adopted unfortunately by the society and some sort of laxity everywhere in following the discipline of the COVID- appropriate behaviour,” Health Minister Harsh Vardhan told a news conference.

He said there was no shortage of shots for the groups eligible for vaccination, with more than 43 million doses in stock or in the pipeline.

India has been inoculating about 4 million people a day.

The surge in cases has been far sharper than last year, triggering widespread calls for the vaccination of younger people.

But Prime Minister Narendra Modi has rejected the idea, citing the need to prioritise the more vulnerable, elderly population.