India has recorded 200,000 Covid cases in a single day.
The 200,739 new infections recorded on Thursday are about twice the number of daily cases that were recorded during India’s last wave, in September.
The Health Ministry also reported 1,038 deaths from Covid-19 in the past 24 hours, pushing the toll over 173,000.
The surge has caused India to lockdown both its capital, New Delhi, and largest business centre, Mumbai.
New Delhi announced stay-at-home orders for the weekend, though essential workers will be able to move about if they have a pass from local authorities.
Restaurants, malls, gyms and spas will be shut down.
Movie theatres will close on weekends, but can operate on weekdays at a third of their capacity.
Arvind Kejriwal, Delhi's top elected official, said that despite rise in infections, 5,000 hospital beds are still available in the capital and more capacity is being added.
However, more than a dozen hotels and wedding banquet halls were ordered to be converted into Covid-19 centres where doctors from nearby hospitals will treat the moderately ill.
"The surge is alarming," said S.K. Sarin, a government health expert in New Delhi.
The moves in the capital came after similar measures were imposed in the worst-hit state of Maharashtra, home to financial capital, Mumbai.
Authorities in Mumbai closed most industries, businesses and public places on Wednesday night and put limits on the movement of people for 15 days. Train and plane travel was still allowed, however.
In recent days, the city has seen an exodus of panic-stricken day labourers, hauling backpacks and flocking to overcrowded trains.
India’s toll of 14 million cases puts it second behind the United States. It ranks fourth in deaths after the US, Brazil and Mexico — though, with nearly 1.4 billion people, it has a much larger population than any of those countries. Experts say even these figures are likely an undercount.
As it struggles with the caseload, India is ramping up its vaccination drive. The Health Ministry said the total vaccinations crossed 114 million with more than 3 million doses administered on Wednesday.
When infections began plummeting in India in September, many concluded the worst had passed.
Masks and social distancing were abandoned. When cases began rising again in February, authorities were left scrambling.