India reports 58,097 new cases as Omicron looks set to overtake Delta as the dominant strain in the country.
India has reported 58,097 new daily COVID-19 cases, twice the number seen only four days ago, with a top health official in the national capital saying the pandemic’s third wave in the country “has set in”.
Deaths rose by 534, including the southern state of Kerala’s updated death toll of 423, lifting the national total to 482,551, according to the health ministry data on Wednesday.
The total number of cases officially reported so far are more than 35 million, as the highly transmissible Omicron variant begins to overtake Delta, a strain first discovered in India.
Authorities in the capital New Delhi have ordered people to stay home over the coming weekends as they feared the city would report at least 10,000 new COVID-19 cases on Wednesday.
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, the most senior elected official in the capital’s administration, was among the 37,379 new cases reported in India on Tuesday.
Kejriwal, who announced his infection a day after addressing an election rally without a mask, is among dozens of political leaders – including Prime Minister Narendra Modi – holding events across India in front of large crowds.
In the northeastern Manipur and Tripura states, Modi addressed thousands of people at rallies on Tuesday, many sitting in close proximity with their masks pulled down.
In Uttar Pradesh, India’s most populous state, the ruling party and opposition groups cancelled their election rallies as infections continued to spike.
Mega political rallies last year helped the Delta variant to wreak havoc in India, and with several state elections due in coming months, health experts and the public are worried.
India’s daily caseload on Tuesday was the highest since September, although hospital admissions have not jumped yet.
India’s financial capital Mumbai and the technology hub Bengaluru have also imposed curbs on movement during the night, and some cities have closed schools and colleges.
The federal government has encouraged local authorities to impose movement curbs if more than 5 percent of COVID-19 tests are positive.