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MUMBAI: India’s coronavirus epicentre Maharashtra went into a state-wide weekend lockdown on Saturday as the country battled exploding infection numbers and shortages of vaccines, drugs and hospital beds.

Having let its guard down with mass religious festivals, political rallies and spectators at cricket matches, India is experiencing a ferocious new wave with around a million new cases in the past week.

After a lockdown a year ago caused widespread misery and one of the sharpest downturns of any major economy, the central government is desperate to avoid a hugely unpopular second shutdown.

But many states are tightening the screw, in particular Maharashtra and its capital Mumbai, where restaurants are shut and public gatherings of more than five people are banned. Every weekend until the end of April the state’s 125 million people are confined to their homes unless shopping for food, medicine or travelling. In further grim news, a fire broke in a private hospital in the state killing four patients, the fire brigade said. Last month a blaze at a Mumbai clinic killed 11.

India’s drive to vaccinate its 1.3 billion people also looks to be hitting problems, with just 94 million shots administered so far and stocks running low, according to local authorities.

In megacity Mumbai, all 72 private vaccination centres were shut until Tuesday while opening hours were reduced at government and municipal centres, authorities said.

Several states are also experiencing shortages of coronavirus treatment drug Remdesivir, reports said.

A lull in demand from December to February led to low or zero production for three months, the Indian Express cited Remdesivir manufacturers as saying.

On Saturday, India reported 145,000 new cases, a new record taking the total to 13.2 million with 170,000 deaths. Per-capita rates are lower than many other nations however.

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