As a new COVID-19 wave grips India, the country’s daily infections tally shot up to around 270,000 on Saturday.
The nationwide count over the past day was 268,833 infections and 402 fatalities, pushing India’s total above 36.8 million, including 485,752 deaths.
The number marks a jump of nearly 1,100% from the figure of about 23,000 reported on the first day of the year.
From 22,775 on Jan. 1, daily infections had surged past 117,000 by Jan. 7 and have now more than doubled in the past seven days.
Cases of the omicron variant, which is believed to be driving the new wave, have also surged by over 300% since New Year’s Eve – from around 1,400 to more than 6,000 on Saturday.
The capital New Delhi and the western state of Maharashtra, home to commercial hub Mumbai, are seeing the worst of India’s latest outbreak.
From just over 2,700 on Jan. 1, New Delhi’s single-day figure hit an all-time high of almost 29,000 this Thursday, whereas Maharashtra’s daily numbers are now nearing 45,000.
The only difference in India’s new wave is that the rate of hospitalization has remained relatively low, as opposed to last year’s crisis that saw overwhelmed hospitals running out of oxygen supplies.
Restrictions such as night and weekend curfews and a cap on gatherings have been brought back in several Indian states, as well as the capital.
However, in the state of West Bengal, where the government has extended the curbs until Jan. 31, hundreds of thousands of worshippers defied the warning signs for a Hindu festival this week.
Massive crowds gathered on banks of the Ganges for a dip in the waters of the holy river as part of the nine-day Gangasagar Mela that started on Jan. 8, fanning fears of an impending outbreak in the region.
Another issue of concern was the upcoming provincial elections in five states, but authorities have moved swiftly to bar all political rallies.
The ban, which was due to end on Sunday, has now been extended until Jan. 22.