Asia Today: India has record high of 69,000 more infections

By The Associated Press

NEW DELHI — India counted another record high of new coronavirus infections Thursday as it ramped up testing to more than 900,000 a day.

The 69,652 new cases pushed India’s total past 2.8 million, of which 2 million have recovered, the Health Ministry said.

The country also recorded 977 coronavirus fatalities in the past 24 hours, raising total deaths to 53,866, the ministry said.

COVID-19 illnesses and deaths are thought to be far higher around the world due to limited testing and other factors.

India has conducted 3 million tests for the virus, but experts have urged increasing its testing capacity greatly, given India has the world’s second-highest population of 1.4 billion people.

It has the third-most cases in the world, behind the United States and Brazil, and has the fourth highest number of deaths behind the U.S., Brazil and Mexico.

India’s nationwide lockdown imposed in late March began easing in May and is now largely being enforced in high-risk areas.

On Wednesday, authorities ordered reopening of hotels and weekly markets in the Indian capital that were closed for nearly four months. The situation improved in the Indian capital with only 12 deaths reported in the past 24 hours.

Delhi has about 11,000 active cases after more than 139,000 people were infected.

Four of India’s 28 states now account for 63% of total fatalities and 54.6% of the caseload. Western Maharashtra state and three southern states of Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka are the worst-hit regions.

In other developments in the Asia-Pacific region:

— South Korea reported 288 new cases, its third straight day over 200, as health authorities scramble to slow an outbreak in the greater capital area. The figures announced by the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Thursday brought the national caseload to 16,346, including 307 deaths. It said 230 of the new cases came from the densely populated Seoul metropolitan region, home to half of the country’s 51 million people, where health workers have struggled to track transmissions tied to various places and groups, including churches, restaurants, schools and workers.

— Health officials in Australia’s hot spot state said the daily new COVID-19 tally would have to become “substantially lower that it is now” before authorities would consider easing the lockdown in the city Melbourne. “I won’t give you a figure, but single digits or even low double digits,” Victoria state Deputy Chief Health Officer Allen Cheng said, though he was encouraged the daily numbers were trending down in the long-term. Victoria Premier Daniel Andrews said if the city was reopened even at half the current figures, “you wouldn’t have defeated the second wave. You’d just be beginning the process of a third wave.” Victoria reported 240 new cases and 13 deaths Thursday, an increase from the previous day but continuing a recent decline. Melbourne has been under Australia’s toughest pandemic lockdown restrictions for two weeks.

The Associated Press

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