Covid-19: India, Pakistan suffer new surge in cases

Mumbai/Islamabad - Crowding, reluctance to wear masks and UK variant blamed for hike.



By Reuters

Published: Thu 18 Mar 2021, 2:20 PM

India and Pakistan reported a big jump in new coronavirus infections on Thursday, driven by a resurgence in cases in their richest states.

While authorities in India have mainly blamed crowding and an overall reluctance to wear masks for its spike, Pakistan says the UK variant of the virus found in the country could also be a factor.

Maharashtra state, home to India’s commercial capital Mumbai, reported 23,179 of the country’s 35,871 new cases in the past 24 hours, and the fast-spreading contagion in major industrial areas raised risks of companies’ production being disrupted.

With the worst rise in infections since early December, India’s total cases stood at 11.47 million, the highest after the United States and Brazil. Deaths rose by 172 to 159,216, according to health ministry data on Thursday.

In Pakistan, 3,495 people tested positive in the past 24 hours, the most daily infections since early December. Total cases rose past 615,000. Deaths rose by 61 to 13,717.

Most of the new cases came from Pakistan’s largest and richest province, Punjab.

Pakistani minister Asad Umar said on Twitter that hospital beds were filling fast, warning of stricter curbs if rules were not followed.

“The new strain spreads faster and is more deadly,” he said on Twitter, referring to the UK variant.

India’s first wave peaked in September at nearly 100,000 cases a day, with daily infections hitting a low of just over 9,000 early last month.

AFP
AFP

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