Indian Covid hotspot state announces curfew

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India's worst-hit state Maharashtra, including its capital Mumbai, will be under a nightly curfew from Sunday following a sharp rise in coronavirus infections, officials said.

India as a whole has a seen a renewed surge in new infections in recent weeks, dashing hopes at the start of the year that the country of 1.3 billion people had beaten the pandemic.

Maharashtra in western India, home to around 110 million people, has seen the biggest rise, recording on Thursday more than 35,000 new infections in 24 hours, the highest yet.

Mumbai recorded over 5,500 cases on Friday, almost doubling its highest daily count of last year.

Maharashtra chief minister Uddhav Thackeray warned Friday of even stricter restrictions if people do not follow guidelines on social distancing and mask-wearing, local media quoted him as saying.

"I have no intention of imposing a lockdown, but given the growing number of patients, there is a possibility that the health facilities that we have set up on a large scale across the state will also be reduced," Thackeray said.

India has recorded almost 12 million infections, the third highest behind the United States and Brazil, although per capita rates and the number of fatalities are considerably lower.

The renewed jump in cases has prompted India, which many other poorer countries were relying on for supplies including through the Covax initiative, to put the brakes on exports of vaccines.