April 18 coronavirus news

By Fernando Alfonso III, CNN

Updated 0724 GMT (1524 HKT) April 19, 2021
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7:32 a.m. ET, April 18, 2021

India's record rise in daily Covid-19 cases continues

A health worker collects nasal swab samples at a Covid-19 testing center in Hyderabad, India, on April 12.
A health worker collects nasal swab samples at a Covid-19 testing center in Hyderabad, India, on April 12. Mahesh Kumar A./AP

India on Sunday reported 261,500 new cases of Covid-19, the fourth consecutive day of more than 200,000 infections and the highest since the start of the pandemic, according to a CNN tally of figures from the Indian Ministry of Health. 

The health ministry also reported 1,501 new deaths, the highest in almost 10 months.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi chaired a special meeting Sunday to deal with the ongoing health crisis brought on by the second wave, asking officials to stick with testing, tracking and treatment. 

Indian states have been facing a shortage of oxygen across hospitals, and Modi asked for the installation of 162 oxygen plants across the country to be sped up, according to a press release issued by the Prime Minister’s office.

Some context: The latest spike in cases has resulted in Modi appealing to pilgrims and religious groups celebrating the month-long Kumbh Mela festival to disband and carry out the necessary rituals symbolically instead of physically congregating in the state of Uttarakhand. 

"Now Kumbh should be carried out symbolically amid the ongoing corona crisis," Modi tweeted on Saturday.

India’s Haridwar district, where the festival is taking place, has reported a total of 5,505 cases since the start of the festival on April 1.

India hit the 13 million mark on April 9 and added a further one million cases in less than a week, surpassing 14 million cases on Thursday. As of Sunday, India has reported a total of 14,788,109 cases of coronavirus and 177,150 deaths, according to the Indian Ministry of Health.