India reports record 126,789 new COVID-19 cases

New Delhi: India reported a record-high 126,789 new COVID-19 cases, health ministry data showed on Thursday, with much of the country struggling to contain a second surge in coronavirus infections.

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Deaths rose by 685, taking the tally to 166,862, the data showed.

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India’s overall caseload reached 12.9 million, the third-most affected globally, behind the United States and Brazil.

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The surge is infections has forced several state governments to tighten social distancing rules

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The spike, much faster than last year’s first wave, has caught the authorities by surprise. The government blames the resurgence mainly on crowding and a reluctance to wear masks as shops and offices have reopened.

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Vaccine centres in several states, including hardest-hit Maharashtra, have been shutting early and turning people away as supplies run out. Odisha state said it had closed half its vaccination sites.

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Temporary ban

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New Zealand has for the first time imposed a temporary ban on travellers coming from India, including its citizens, for about two weeks from April 11 due to a surge in COVID-19 cases among visitors to this country, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said on Thursday.

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The ban will begin on Sunday and will remain in place until April 28, she said.

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While arrivals from India had triggered the risk assessment, Prime Minister Ardern said the government would be looking at risks posed by other COVID-19 hotspot countries, the New Zealand Herald reported.

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