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India’s daily Covid-19 cases have jumped to 117,100 on Friday, Reuters reports, a five-fold increase in a week and on course to overtake its previous infection peak as the fast-spreading Omicron variant replaces Delta in cities.

Government officials have privately said they are working under the assumption that daily infections will surpass the record of more than 414,000 set in May.

“We will clearly surpass our record shortly and reach a new peak by early February,” MD Gupte, a former director of the state-run National Institute of Epidemiology and an immunisation adviser to the government, told Reuters.

“Given the size of our population, we will report more daily cases than the US. But what we have seen is that these cases are much more mild, so the need for hospitalisation and oxygen and all that is not picking up.”

Students wait in an observation area after getting their Covid vaccine at a girls high school in Hyderabad. Photograph: Noah Seelam/AFP/Getty Images

He said India’s high rate of infection during a previous major wave in April and May, as well as vaccinations, would mean a reduction in the severity of the illness for those infected by the Omicron variant.

Health officials have said hospitals and testing infrastructure have yet to come under pressure as many people are recovering quickly at home.

In Mumbai, about quarter of all tests are positive but fewer than a fifth of those who have contracted the virus have needed hospitalisation, Maharashtra Health Minister Rajesh Tope told reporters. The city recorded 20,181 new infections on Thursday, well above its previous high of just over 11,000 set last year.

“Around 80% of the hospital beds are still empty,” he said. “Oxygen demand is not rising in proportion to the rising cases. Right now, there is no plan to impose a lockdown. If required, we may increase restrictions.”

Delhi, where daily cases have risen by more than five times in a week, goes into a 55-hour lockdown from Friday night to Monday morning. Authorities have also imposed a night curfew on weekdays, closed schools, and ordered most shops to open only on alternate days when there is no curfew.

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