India reports second surge with over 47,000 daily infections, most deaths this year

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India reported 275 new COVID-19 deaths on Wednesday, the most this year, as a second surge in cases fills up hospital beds in big states such as

Infections rose by 47,262 in the past 24 hours, the highest since early November, to a total of 11.7 million, data from the health ministry showed.

India has recorded the most number of cases after the United States and Brazil.

Total deaths have shot up to 160,441 in India.

India’s health ministry said on Wednesday it has also detected a new “double mutant variant” of the novel coronavirus, adding to concern as the government struggles with the highest single-day tally of new infections and deaths this year.

Genome sequencing and analysis of samples from Maharashtra state found mutations in the virus that do not match previously catalogued “variants of concern” (VOC), the ministry said in a statement.

Maharashtra is one of India’s worst-affected states but the ministry said it was not clear if the new variant was causing an upsurge there or in other states.

“Though VOCs and a new double mutant variant have been found in India, these have not been detected in numbers sufficient to either establish a direct relationship or explain the rapid increase in cases in some states,” the ministry said in a statement.

It did not elaborate.

India has already reported several cases of a variant first detected inBritain, as well as ones first found in South Africa and Brazil.

The number of deaths from COVID-19 in India in the previous 24 hours rose to 275, the most this year, taking the total to 160,441, government data showed.

Several states announced a ban on large gatherings ahead of the Hindu festival of Holi this weekend.

The health ministry said states were “strongly advised” to restrict public observation of festivals.

“Any laxity at this point in ensuring strict adherence ... to contain the spread of COVID-19, may result in losing the impetus and benefits that our country has gained so far in managing the virus,” the ministry said in a statement.

Alarmed by the surge, the federal government has announced it was expanding its nationwide inoculation campaign to include everyone above the age of 45 years, and appealed to people to get vaccinated.

Total vaccinations in India, rank as world’s third highest, behind the United States and China, but its ranking is lower on a per capita basis, the website Our World in Data showed.

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