India virus surge worsens
Bollywood star Akshay Kumar said Sunday he has tested positive for Covid-19, becoming the latest Indian celebrity to contract the virus as the vast nation battles a new wave of cases.
India reported 93,249 new daily infections on Sunday, according to health ministry data, the highest increase since September, taking the total known cases to almost 12.5 million.
“I wish to inform everyone that, earlier this morning, I have tested positive for Covid-19,” the 53-year-old actor tweeted.
Kumar said last year that he drinks cow urine daily to stay healthy — a practice some Hindus believe has medical benefits, including against the coronavirus.
He tweeted that he is now under home quarantine and has “sought necessary medical care”.
Saturday also saw Indian spin star Axar Patel announce he had tested positive and was in isolation ahead of the start of the lucrative Twenty20 Indian Premier League tournament.
The news came just a day after Indian cricket legend Sachin Tendulkar said he had been hospitalised as a precautionary measure after testing positive a week earlier.
Single-day infections in the nation of 1.3 billion have been rising since early February when they fell to below 9,000 after peaking at almost 100,000 in September.
Experts have warned that infections are increasing at a faster pace in India, which has the world’s third-highest number of cases after the US and Brazil, compared to last year.
Maharashtra, where the country’s financial capital Mumbai is located, has been the worst-hit state or territory in recent weeks.
The megacity of 20 million people saw its highest single-day spike on Saturday with 9,090 fresh cases.
Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray tweeted Friday that “if things do not improve visibly in a couple of days and if no other solution is found, we will have to announce another lockdown like it is being done globally”.
Ahead of Sunday’s figures, India had recorded more than 456,000 cases in the last seven days — an increase of 37 percent compared to the previous week, according to an AFP database.
Brazil recorded over 505,000 cases for the same period but with a decreasing trend from the previous week, and the US reported 451,000 infections.
In neighbouring Bangladesh, authorities said a seven-day lockdown would be imposed from Monday, with all domestic travel services including flights suspended, and malls and shops shut.
Banks would be allowed to open for just 2.5 hours on weekdays, while public and private sector businesses were told to only have a skeleton crew in their offices.
“The corona(virus) infections are spreading fast. The infection and death rates are jumping,” Road Transport Minister Obaidul Quader said in a video message late Saturday.
“In view of the prevailing situation, the Sheikh Hasina government has decided to enforce a lockdown across the country for seven days starting from Monday.”
The nation of 168 million people has been grappling with a sharp rise in cases in recent weeks.
Health authorities reported 7,087 new cases on Sunday — the highest since the start of the pandemic — taking the infection toll to just under 640,000.