Faced with an alarming spike in Covid cases, authorities in Maharashtra's Pune have ordered a 12-hour night curfew starting 6 pm today for a period of at least one week, with a review of the order and coronavirus situation in the district scheduled for next Friday.
Religious places, hotels and bars, shopping malls, and movie theatres will all remain closed for the next seven days, Pune Divisional Commissioner Saurabh Rao said Friday afternoon.
Only home deliveries of food, medicines and other essential services will be allowed in this period.
Pune is among the worst-affected areas in India as a result of a renewed wave of infections.
On Thursday 8,011 new cases were reported. This was the second consecutive 24-hour period to cross that mark, after 8,605 - Pune's biggest single-day spike - were detected on Wednesday.
As cases increase Pune Mayor Murlidhar Mohol, on Thursday, directed private hospitals to make 80 per cent of beds available for COVID-19 patients. However, Mr Mohol played down talk of a lockdown to slow the spread of the virus, saying there is "presently no serious need".
"Instead testing, tracing and vaccination drives have to be increased," he told news agency ANI, warning of stricter measures if the spike in cases could not be controlled soon.
Apart from Pune, state capital Mumbai has also seen a worrying spike in Covid cases. On Thursday Mumbai reported 8,646 new cases - the highest ever in a 24-hour period.
Mumbai authorities have also stepped up measures to control the spread of the virus, including conducting random Covid tests on people in public places like malls and bus stations, where they say many are flouting rules by not wearing face masks or maintaining social distance.
And, as in Pune, the city is also prepping for a shortage of hospital beds and equipment.
"Cases are rising daily in Mumbai... this is a matter of concern. Due to the surge, a shortage of beds and ventilators is also being seen. We have been appealing to people since last March but they are showing carelessness," Mumbai Mayor Kishori Pednekar said.
"Nobody wants lockdown but... keeping in mind the manner in which cases are rising and creating pressure on health infrastructure... some strict measures will have to be taken," she added.
The spike in Covid cases is a problem across Maharashtra as a whole; this morning's data showed that over 43,000 were reported in the past 24 hours. To halt the virus a number of measures are now in place, including limiting movie theatres, halls and offices to 50 per cent capacity.
Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray is to address the state at 8.30 pm.
Data this morning showed that 81,466 new coronavirus cases were reported across India - the most in a day in since December 6.
India's worsening Covid situation is due to a new strain of the virus, Dr Randeep Guleria, Director of Delhi's AIIMS (All India Institute of Medical Sciences), told NDTV on Wednesday.
With input from ANI