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AFP
April 7, 2021

New Delhi to impose pandemic night curfew

World

AFP
April 7, 2021

NEW DELHI: The Indian capital on Tuesday imposed an immediate night curfew a day after the nation posted a record coronavirus surge, with financial hub Mumbai also introducing similar restrictions.

Alarm has grown since India passed more than 100,000 new cases in a single day for the first time on Monday. New Delhi, which is home to 25 million people, and other major cities have all ordered a clampdown on public movement.

The Delhi regional government said the "sudden increase in Covid-19 cases" and "high positivity rate" meant a night curfew was needed. The ban will be in place from 10 pm to 5 am with only essential services or people travelling to and from vaccination centres allowed on the streets. Delhi reported 3,548 new positive cases on Monday, still below its peak of nearly 9,000 in November, when it was one of the worst-hit cities across the nation of 1.3 billion people.

The government has so far shied away from reimposing a repeat of nationwide restrictions imposed in March last year -- one of the world’s toughest lockdowns -- as it seeks to revive the devastated economy. But India’s wealthiest state Maharashtra, which includes Mumbai, on Sunday announced a weekend lockdown and night curfew on its 110 million population.

The state currently accounts for more than half of the new cases reported each day nationwide. India, which has the world’s third-highest number of infections after the United States and Brazil, has reported almost 12.7 million cases and more than 165,000 deaths. Single-day infections have been rising since early February when they fell to below 9,000.

The country has recorded more than 549,000 cases in the last seven days -- an increase of 40 percent compared to the previous week, according to an AFP database. Brazil recorded just under 440,000 cases and the United States reported just over 453,000, but both with a decreasing trend from the previous week.

Meanwhile, Tbilisil Georgian Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili said on Tuesday he tested positive for coronavirus amid a fresh spike in cases in the Caucasus nation despite the start of a vaccine rollout. "I am feeling well," Garibashvili, 38, said on Facebook. "I am in self-isolation and continuing to work remotely."

On Tuesday, Georgia registered 897 new coronavirus cases -- three times the average number of daily infections recorded over the past months. Overall, the Black Sea nation of some four million people has registered more than 275,000 coronavirus cases and 3,832 deaths, the health ministry said.

In mid-March, Georgia began a national vaccination campaign by inoculating medical workers with AstraZeneca’s jab. In a related development, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Tuesday urged pandemic weary Canadians to "hang in there" a few more weeks as the country’s vaccine rollout accelerates but Covid-19 variants surge.

"We’re in a situation where everyone is exhausted," Trudeau told a news conference. "This has been a very, very long year." But, he added, "we are going through a third wave, and we must continue hanging in there for a few more weeks, so that we can really flatten the curve, and allow vaccines that will arrive in the millions in the coming weeks to have an effect."

Canada on Saturday crossed the threshold of one million coronavirus cases, forcing several provinces to tighten restrictions in recent days. Just over 23,000 people have died. The nation’s economic engine and most populous province of Ontario last week ordered a near lockdown until at least the end of April, while neighboring Quebec extended a nighttime curfew imposed at the start of the year.

A surge in variants -- up nearly threefold in the past two weeks -- and related hospitalizations are causing growing alarm, chief public health officer Theresa Tam said. More than 15,200 variant cases have so far been reported, with the highest numbers found in Alberta, British Columbia, Ontario and Quebec.