India sees 10,000 new cases ahead of re-openings

NEW DELHI (AP) — India reported 9,971 new coronavirus cases yesterday in another biggest single-day spike, a day before it prepares to reopen shopping malls, hotels and religious places after a 10-week lockdown.

India has now surpassed Spain as the fifth hardest-hit country, with 246,628 confirmed cases of the coronavirus, including 6,929 deaths.

New Delhi, Mumbai and Ahmedabad are among India’s worst-hit cities. Six of the country’s 28 states account for 73 per cent of the total cases.

India has already partially restored train services and domestic flights and allowed shops and manufacturing to reopen. E-commerce companies have started to deliver goods, including those considered non-essential, to places outside containment zones.

China yesterday reported its first non-imported case of the new coronavirus in two weeks, an infected person on the island of Hainan off the southern coast. The National Health Commission said there were also five imported cases in the previous 24-hour period, bringing the nation’s total case count to 83,036.

China has largely stopped the spread of the virus at home, though it continues to have occasional localised outbreaks. It is on guard against imported cases as it begins to ease restrictions on flights and people arriving from abroad. The official death toll in China is 4,634.

South Korea reported 57 new cases of the coronavirus yesterday, its second straight day with over 50 new infections. The new cases took the country’s total to 11,776, including 273 deaths. South Korea’s caseload peaked in late February and early March when it recorded hundreds of new cases each day.

But the outbreak has significantly eased amid aggressive tracing, testing and treatment, prompting authorities to loosen strict social distancing rules. The new cases in recent weeks have been linked to nightclubs, an e-commerce warehouse, church gatherings and door-to-door sellers in the Seoul metropolitan area.

Australian Health Minister Greg Hunt said he hopes the Black Lives Matter rallies across the country last Saturday that broke COVID-19 social distancing rules will not lead to a new wave of infections.

More than 20,000 people marched in Sydney and crowds rallied in Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide and some regional cities and towns despite public health warnings. “We don’t know whether people will be infected,” Hunt told Australian Broadcasting Corp radio.

“But if there is someone who is infectious in the midst of a crowd like that, that can have a catastrophic impact.” Australia has had over 7,250 confirmed COVID-19 cases with 102 deaths.

People walk along a street outside the Jama Masjid in the old quarters of New Delhi. PHOTO: AFP