With 32,695 new coronavirus cases, India broke its own record Thursday for the virus’ biggest daily spike.
India has been setting such records almost daily. Only the United States and Brazil have had more infections.
In late March, India imposed one of the world’s earliest, strictest coronavirus lockdowns, while its caseload was still low. But early last month, it eased those restrictions because of the damage they caused to the economy.
Curfews and curbs on movement had left at least 100 million people out of work. Among the hardest hit were migrant workers, who got stranded in urban centers or industrial zones, far from their families, when public transit shut down. Several of them starved to death on the side of the road, trying to walk hundreds of miles home to their villages.
Now the virus is surging, and individual states and cities are re-imposing restrictions.
The latest is Goa, a western coastal state famous for backpackers and beach resorts. It’s imposed a three-day lockdown and nighttime curfew beginning Thursday night – just two weeks after the state reopened for tourists.
About a dozen other Indian states are doing the same. The eastern state of Bihar began a two-week lockdown Thursday. Bihar is one of the poorest parts of India, with a population of 128 million and a fragile, overloaded health system. The state has been reporting more than 1,000 cases a day, despite very limited testing capacity.
India’s total caseload is nearing one million. The Health Ministry reported 606 additional deaths Thursday, for a total of 24,915 fatalities since the pandemic began.
The real numbers, however, could be far higher. Testing has been limited nationwide. In hotspots like Mumbai, a doctor’s prescription was required to get a test, until last week.