India’s virus death toll rises, Seoul cases jump

NEW DELHI (AP) – India’s coronavirus death toll overtook Britain to become the fourth-highest in the world with another single-day record increase in cases yesterday.

According to the Health Ministry, India reported 1,007 deaths in the past 24 hours. Its total rose to 48,040 deaths, behind the United States (US), Brazil and Mexico.

India’s confirmed cases reached 2,461,190 with a single-day spike of 64,553 cases reported in the past 24 hours, the ministry said.

India is behind the US and Brazil in total positive cases. More than 70 per cent of people infected in India have recovered.

The daily increase in newly reported infections was around 15,000 in the first week of July but jumped to more than 50,000 in the first week of August. The ministry cited its testing efforts, with more than 800,000 tests in a single day, taking cumulative tests to more than 26 million.

Health workers screen people for COVID-19 symptoms in Dharavi, one of Asia’s biggest slums, in Mumbai. PHOTO: AP

Health experts said it needs to be higher, given India’s population of 1.4 billion.

India’s two-month lockdown imposed nationwide in late March kept infections low. But it has eased and is now largely being enforced in high-risk areas. The new cases spiked after India reopened shops and manufacturing and allowed hundreds of thousands of migrant workers to return to their homes from coronavirus-hit regions.

Subways, schools and movie theatres remain closed.

South Korea reported 103 new virus cases, one of its biggest daily jumps in months, as officials express concerned that infections are getting out of control in cities. Eighty-three of the new cases were from the Seoul area, and infections were also reported in Busan, Gwangju and Ulsan. Lee Jae-myung, governor of Gyeonggi province near Seoul, issued an administrative order to shut down the province’s 15,779 religious facilities for two weeks to slow the spread of the virus.

Churches have emerged as major sources of infections after many of them failed to require worshipers to wear masks or allowed them to sing in choirs or eat together in diners.

Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun said authorities will be forced to consider elevating social distancing measures if transmissions continue to rise. That may include bans on large gatherings, shutting “high-risk” facilities such as karaoke joints and again banning spectators from sports stadiums.

New Zealand’s government has extended a lockdown of its largest city Auckland for another 12 days as it tries to stamp out its first domestic coronavirus outbreak in more than three months.

The outbreak has grown to 30 people and extended beyond Auckland for the first time. Until the cluster was discovered on Tuesday, New Zealand had gone 102 days without infections spreading in the community, with the only known cases travellers quarantined after arriving from abroad.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said extending the lockdown will give health authorities time to get a handle on the cluster and isolate those infected.