India recorded 260,000 fresh coronavirus cases last week – one of the worst weekly increases since the pandemic began early last year. The western state of Maharashtra accounts for nearly 70% of the national caseload.
Experts say that poor adherence to safety protocols is driving the surge. Some say new variants could also be a reason, but it isn't established yet.
India has so far recorded more than 11 million cases and 160,000 deaths.
India's caseload began to dip at the start of 2021 with daily infections falling to less than 20,000 from a peak of over 90,000 in September. But the last few weeks have seen a sharp uptick. While Maharashtra leads the table, several other states – Kerala, Punjab, Karnataka, Gujarat, Tamil Nadu, Haryana and Madhya Pradesh – are also seeing a rise in cases.
In Mumbai, Maharashtra's capital, officials have said they will roll out random rapid tests in crowded areas such as shopping centres and train stations.
Last week – between Mar 15 and 21 – India reported 100,000 more cases than the previous week.