India’s coronavirus infection rates are rising exponentially, with the country registering over 200,000 new infections over the last 24 hours — twice as many as 10 days prior.
Experts say the harrowing trend can be traced back to two factors — extremely virulent mutations of the original virus, and the country’s lax approach to restrictions on daily life to slow the spread of infection.
India is also struggling with vaccine shortages and has administered just 114 million jabs so far for a population of over 1 billion.
Now, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government in New Delhi has ordered the country’s Serum Institute — a key global vaccine supplier — to stop exporting doses in order to vaccinate Indians first.
However, politicians are also wary of imposing nationwide lockdowns, cognizant of the devastating economic effect of the last lockdown in Spring 2020.
The state of Maharashtra and its capital, Mumbai, and the national capital, Delhi, are among a handful of regional governments that have imposed new restrictions.
Officials have so far refused to reimpose limits after they were almost entirely done away with at the beginning of 2021. As a result, crowds have flocked to sporting, political and religious events in huge numbers.