New Delhi, March 18:

India on Thursday registered 35,871 new cases of coronavirus disease (Covid-19), pushing the cumulative tally past 11,474,605 in the last 24 hours, according to the Union Health Ministry data updated at 8am. The country has recorded more than 20,000 cases for the eighth day in a row, indicating a sharp rise in cases and a likely second wave.

The active caseload in the country, increasing for a week now, was logged at 252,364 on Thursday. This accounts for 2.05 % of the total cases.

The death toll soared to 159,216 with 172 new fatalities, the highest in around two months, the data updated at 8 am showed.

Maharashtra, India’s worst affected state by the viral disease, has been driving the country’s tally as it saw 23,179 Covid-19 cases on Wednesday, the highest single-day infection count so far in 2021, a health official said. The last time cases hovered past the 23,000-mark in the state was in September last year. On September 11, 2020, the state reported 24,886 cases and on September 17, there were 24,619 infections.

This was the sixth-highest one-day spike of infection cases in the state since the pandemic began last year. As many as 30,254 new infections were recorded in a span of 24 hours on December 13.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday met the chief ministers of states and called for “quick and decisive” steps to stop the emerging “second peak” of Covid-19.

PM Modi warned chief ministers during a video interaction that a “nationwide outbreak” may emerge again, and asked them to seriously follow the “Test, Track and Treat” approach. In his interaction over the pandemic and progress in the Covid-19 vaccination drive, Modi said states like Maharashtra and Punjab have been seeing a rise in cases while the positivity rate has shot up in Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh.