Indian virus cases hit six-month high

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India has reported 81,466 new COVID-19 infections, the highest daily number in six months, as several states are hit by a second wave of the coronavirus.

Health ministry data shows the total number of cases has surged to 12.3 million, making India the third-most hit country from the virus after the United States and Brazil.

The number of those dead rose by 469 to 163,396.

Vaccination drives have been intensified amid the recent surge of cases and many states are considering imposing fresh curbs on movement of people.

Maharashtra, the western state that has been worst-hit from COVID-19 so far, reported as many as 43,183 new cases on Friday - its highest since the pandemic spread to India in March 2020.

Officials in the state imposed a night curfew at the weekend but are considering stricter control measures, including shutting down religious places and restricting train travel.

India imposed one of the world's harshest lockdowns to control the coronavirus early last year, but it was eased to salvage the economy, and cases gradually fell later in the year.

Infection numbers were also up on Friday in the states of Chhattisgarh, Karnataka, Punjab, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh.