The latest on the coronavirus pandemic and vaccines

By Jessie Yeung, James Griffiths, Meg Wagner and Melissa Mahtani, CNN

Updated 0004 GMT (0804 HKT) April 17, 2021
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2:55 a.m. ET, April 16, 2021

India records highest single-day new cases so far, as it struggles with mass Hindu pilgrimage

A health official takes a swab sample from a man to test for Covid-19 at a testing centre in Allahabad, India, on April 12.
A health official takes a swab sample from a man to test for Covid-19 at a testing centre in Allahabad, India, on April 12. Sanjay Kanojia/AFP/Getty Images

India reported 217,353 new cases of Covid-19 on Friday, marking the country's highest single-day case count for the third consecutive day, according to data from the Indian Ministry of Health.

The ministry also reported 1,185 additional deaths. That raises the country's total to more than 14.2 million cases and 174,000 related deaths.

Kumbh Mela: This comes as millions of Hindus from around the country flock to the city of Haridwar in Uttarakhand state for the Kumbh Mela religious festival, the world's largest pilgrimage.

During the festival, which lasts throughout April, huge crowds gather to hold prayers together, attend ceremonies and take holy dips in the Ganges River. At least four million people bathed in the Ganges on April 12 and April 14 combined, two auspicious dates of the festival.

Cases have spiked in Haridwar, proving experts' worst fears that the festival poses a huge Covid risk. Since the festival began on April 1, Haridwar has reported 4,349 cases -- that's about 500 to 600 cases a day, according to the state health department. 

New restrictions: In response to the rising cases, the Uttarakhand government imposed new restrictions on Thursday, including a statewide curfew and cap on public gatherings.

The Kumbh Mela is exempted from these latest restrictions -- but guidelines remain in place, including the requirement that all devotees register their health details online and provide negative Covid tests.

At least one religious group attending the festival, the Niranjani Akhada, has asked those from out of state to pull back amid the rise in cases. 

“We have told all the people who have come from Gujarat, Maharashtra, etc., to return home because the situation in Haridwar is not in control," said Ravindra Puri, secretary of the Niranjani Akhada, on Thursday. 
2:51 a.m. ET, April 16, 2021

Countries across Southeast Asia see surging cases and new restrictions

From CNN’s Yong Xiong and Taylor Barnes

A number of countries across Southeast Asia are battling a rise in Covid-19 cases, prompting new lockdown measures and extended travel restrictions.

Cambodia reported 344 new cases on Friday, mostly around the capital Phnom Penh, according to the official Agence Kampuchea Presse. Residents in the capital and a satellite district are under lockdown for 14 days, banned from leaving home except to go to work, to buy food or for medical treatment.

The Philippines reported 11,429 new cases and 148 new deaths on Thursday, according to the official Philippines News Agency (PNA). The country's cases began rising in late February, leading the government to reintroduce curfews in Manila and surrounding provinces.

The country has made some progress in securing international vaccines; this week, it announced it would sign a supply agreement with Russia for 20 million doses of the Sputnik V vaccine, according to PNA.

Malaysia reported 2,148 new Covid-19 cases on Thursday, the country’s highest daily total since early March, according to state news agency Bernama. The health ministry has proposed retaining a ban on interstate travel through the Ramadan period.

Indonesia’s death toll topped 43,000 on Thursday, and its total case count is nearing 1.6 million. More than 5.7 million Indonesians have been fully vaccinated and 10.5 million have received at least one dose, according to the Antara news agency.