NEW DELHI, India – India Sunday reported 159,632 new COVID-19 cases, which is over a five-fold increase since the beginning of the new year. On Jan. 1, the total number of new cases was only 27,553.
The virus continues to spread at an unprecedented pace, largely driven by the highly transmissible Omicron variant (B.1.1.529), which is now present in 27 states.
The daily case numbers are yet to match last year's enormous figures seen during the brutal second wave of COVID-19, while thousands died each day and crematoriums maintained round-the-clock pyres for mass cremation of pandemic victims.
Since last Monday, the daily infections have increased over four times, an indication that has worried experts who feared the country's hospitals could be overwhelmed again.
The hospitals across India once had to struggle for oxygen supplies to keep patients alive.
To avoid the spread of infections, authorities in many states like Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal and Karnataka are implementing restrictions such as a night curfew, ordering a reduction in the gatherings and closure of shopping malls and recreational places.
Data shows the country last year reported over 100,000 cases on June 6.
At present, Maharashtra, one of the worst-hit states by the COVID-19 pandemic, added 41,434 cases in 24 hours. It was followed by Delhi and West Bengal that added 20,181 cases and 18,802 cases respectively during the past 24 hours.
"The active cases today comprise 1.66 percent of the total infections, while the national COVID-19 recovery rate is currently 96.98 percent," the federal health ministry said Sunday.
"The daily positivity rate was recorded at 10.21 percent, while the weekly positivity rate was recorded at 6.77 percent."
Meanwhile, the health ministry on Friday said people flying in from abroad will need to home quarantine for a week after landing in India and test on the eighth day.