India’s southern state of Tamil Nadu announced new lockdown measures on Saturday as officials reported a nationwide record number of single-day Covid-19 deaths as cases continue to surge.
India’s health ministry reported 4,187 fatalities over the past 24 hours, taking the overall death toll to just under 240,000. Cases rose by 401,078, increasing the pandemic’s total to 21.9 million.
Officials in Tamil Nadu said the state-wide lockdown would begin on Monday and last until May 24. Shops and other businesses will be allowed to open on Saturday and Sunday to give residents time to prepare for the sweeping shutdown. Neighbouring Karnataka, home to India’s tech capital Bengaluru, announced late on Friday it was extending movement restrictions, also until May 24.
Experts, who have expressed doubts about the official death toll, say India may not hit a peak in its current surge until the end of May.
While the situation in major cities New Delhi and Mumbai is now stabilizing, with extra supplies of oxygen being sent and new hospital beds opened up, coronavirus is now spreading fast in southern states and rural areas.
Bangalore, which saw 1,907 coronavirus deaths in April, has recorded more than 950 deaths just in the first seven days of May. A lack of oxygen and critical care beds is being blamed for the dramatic rise in the death rate. The city of nine million people imposed its own restrictions on movement on April 25 but this has not stopped the grim statistics.