India is the second most affected country in the world by the epidemic after the United States, although cases have begun to decline in recent weeks.
Indian Health Ministry figures showed that coronavirus cases exceeded nine million early Friday after more than 45,000 new infections were recorded.
According to the Ministry of Health update, in addition to the number of confirmed cases exceeding nine million, about 584 deaths were recorded during the past 24 hours, bringing the total to 132,162 cases.
India is currently experiencing a steady decline in cases from its peak in September, with the country reporting fewer than 50,000 new infections per day in the past 13 days.
However, the capital, New Delhi, is seeing a massive increase in new cases.
Officials in New Delhi on Thursday quadrupled fines to 2,000 rupees ($ 27) for those without face masks, as the government came under mounting pressure to impose another lockdown.
“In times when words alone do not serve the purpose, we have to be tougher,” Prime Minister Arvind Kejriwal said in a press conference, in a tweet that the city of 20 million people was “at war”.
India imposed one of the strictest lockdowns in the world in March, but the restrictions dealt a severe blow to the economy and the government has since eased them.
Few people wear masks – especially outside the big cities – and in recent weeks shoppers have thronged the markets in preparation for a series of religious festivals.
Although new cases in India have more than halved in recent weeks from the peak of 100,000 daily infections in September, authorities fear an increase in the coming weeks.
The western city of Ahmedabad late on Thursday announced an indefinite night curfew after reporting an increase in cases after the Diwali holiday. The main city in Gujarat has recorded nearly 47,000 cases and nearly 2,000 deaths.
In Delhi, nearly 500,000 people have been fined since June for not wearing masks, 370,000 for ignoring social distancing rules and 3,500 for spitting.
This week, the number of cases in the capital exceeded half a million, with a record high daily cases and deaths.
A government mobile app showed that over 90 percent of the intensive case beds in Delhi with ventilators were occupied on Thursday.
The problem is exacerbated by the suffocating fog and pollution that dominate the city this time every year.
“My father’s oxygen saturation level has decreased … We rushed to the nearby hospital, but there were no beds available,” Delhi resident Rajiv Nigam told AFP.
“We were moving all night from one hospital to another, but the story was the same everywhere,” he said, attacking the “unprepared” city government that is working on increasing the number of hospital beds.
Kejriwal announced this week that the number of guests at weddings would be reduced to 50, and asked the central government to have the authority to close markets if they become “hot spots” for the viruses.