India’s virus cases surpass 600,000

NEW DELHI (AP) — India’s number of coronavirus cases passed 600,000 yesterday with the nation’s infection curve rising and its testing capacity being increased.

The 19,148 new cases reported in the past 24 hours raised the national total to 604,641, with nearly 100,000 of them in the past four days. A total of 17,834 people have died so far due to the virus, according to India’s Health Ministry.

More than 60 per cent of the cases are in the worst-hit Maharashtra state, Tamil Nadu state, and the capital territory of New Delhi.

However, the western beach of state of Goa, a popular backpacking destination, opened for tourism yesterday with the state government allowing 250 hotels to re-open after more than three months. Tourists will either have to carry COVID-19 negative certificates or get tested on arrival. The state has reported 1,387 positive cases with four deaths.

Many industries and businesses have re-opened since the country eased its strict lockdown in early June, and Indians have cautiously returned to the streets.

People shower flower petals to honour state health workers who came to collect swab samples from people testing for the COVID-19 coronavirus in Kolkata. PHOTO: AFP

Schools, colleges and movie theatres remain shuttered. Prime Minister Narendra Modi said in a live address on Tuesday that the death rate is under control but the country is at a “critical juncture”. He urged more stringent enforcement of social distancing and other health guidelines. The Health Ministry said testing has been ramped up to more than 200,000 every day, with 8.8 million tests conducted so far. The recovery rate is 59.43 per cent.

Meanwhile, coronavirus outbreak in Australia’s second-largest city continued to grow, and the Northern Territory detected its first case in three months.

The man from the Northern Territory had travelled overseas and stayed in the virus hot spot of Melbourne recently. The territory’s Health Minister did not say whether the man was likely infected in Melbourne or overseas. Most of Melbourne’s 77 latest cases were in suburbs that were put under a one-month lockdown on Wednesday night.

South Korea reported 54 new cases as the virus continues to spread beyond the capital area and reach cities like Gwangju, which has shut schools and tightened social restrictions after dozens were found infected this week. Health Minster Park Neung-hoo during a virus meeting expressed alarm over the rise of infections in Gwangju, which had one of the smallest caseloads among major South Korean cities before this week.

Park urged the city’s residents to refrain from unnecessary gatherings, maintain distance from others and wear masks.

China reported three new cases of coronavirus, including just one case of local transmission in the capital Beijing, appearing to put the country where the virus was first detected late last year on course to eradicating it domestically, at least temporarily.