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India’s richest state, Maharashtra, home of the financial capital Mumbai, will put a weekend lockdown and curfew on its 110 million people as it battles a surge in COVID-19 cases, authorities said on Sunday.

India reported 93,249 new daily infections on Sunday, the highest increase since September, with Maharashtra making a major contribution.

From Monday evening to the end of April, a night curfew will be imposed, gatherings of more than four people will be prohibited and private offices, restaurants, cinemas, swimming pools, bars, places of worship and public places such as beaches will be closed.

Only essential services may be operated at the weekend.

“In imposing these restrictions, care was taken on the one hand not to undermine the state’s business cycle and not to harass workers and workers, and emphasis was placed on closing down crowded places,” the state government said in a late statement Sunday.

Public transport services could be operated, but with a capacity of 50 percent. Industrial and manufacturing activities in the state, as well as filming in Mumbai, home of Bollywood, could continue if health measures are followed.

The announcement came when Mumbai-based Bollywood star Akshay Kumar said on Sunday he had tested positive for COVID-19 – the youngest Indian celebrity to contract the virus in the country of 1.3 billion people.

“I want to let everyone know that I tested positive for COVID-19 this morning,” the 53-year-old actor tweeted.

He added that he was quarantined at home and “received necessary medical care”.

On Saturday, Indian spin star Axar Patel announced that he tested positive and was in isolation before the start of the lucrative Twenty20 Indian Premier League tournament.

The news came just a day after Indian cricket legend Sachin Tendulkar said he was hospitalized as a precautionary measure after testing positive a week earlier.

Sharp increase

India, which has the third highest number of cases in the world after the US and Brazil, has so far reported nearly 12.5 million infections and more than 164,000 deaths.

One-day infections have increased since the beginning of February, when they fell below 9,000 after hitting a high of nearly 100,000 in September.

Mumbai, a mega city with 20 million inhabitants, recorded the highest daily increase with 11,163 new cases on Sunday.

India has registered more than 483,000 cases in the past seven days – a 37 percent increase from the previous week, according to an AFP database.

Brazil recorded over 463,000 cases, but with a downward trend from the previous week, and the US reported just under 451,000 infections.

In neighboring Bangladesh, authorities announced that a seven-day lockdown would be imposed starting Monday, suspending all domestic travel services, including flights, and closing shopping malls and shops.

Banks were only allowed to open 2.5 hours on weekdays, while public and private sector companies should only have skeleton crews in their offices.

“The corona (virus) infections are spreading quickly. Infection and mortality rates are rising,” said Road Transport Minister Obaidul Quader in a video message late on Saturday.

“Given the current situation, Sheikh Hasina’s government has decided to impose a seven-day lockdown across the country from Monday.”

The nation of 168 million people has faced a sharp rise in cases in the past few weeks.

The health authorities reported 7,087 new cases on Sunday – the highest since the beginning of the pandemic – and increased the number of infection victims to just under 640,000.

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© 2021 AFP

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