India reported 44,230 new COVID-19 cases on Friday, the most in three weeks, the latest evidence of a worrying trend of rising cases that have forced one state to lockdown amid fears of another wave of infections.
India was battered by the Delta variant of the virus in April and May, but the rate of spread of infections later eased off. It has again been rising, with higher numbers in seven of the past eight days.
The nationwide tally of infections has reached 3.16 crore, according to health ministry data. Deaths rose by 555 overnight, taking the overall toll to 4,23,217.
Medical experts polled by Reuters in late June said the third wave of coronavirus infections was likely to hit India by October, though it would be better controlled than the devastating April-May outbreak.
Health experts have called for faster vaccinations to stave off another big surge.
The government estimates that 67.6% of the 135 crore population already have antibodies against the coronavirus, with nearly 38% of the adult population of about 94.4 crore people having received at least one vaccine dose.
The disease’s estimated reproduction rate, or R-value, has also inched up in the past week,
The R-value hit one on July 24 – meaning on average, every ten people infected will infect ten other people – for the first time since May when daily infections were near a peak of 400,000.