World

India sets world record with 78,761 coronavirus cases in one day

It now has more than 3.5 million cases even as economy gradually reopens

NEW DELHI: India yesterday set a coronavirus record when it reported 78,761 new infections in 24 hours - the world's highest single-day rise - even as it continued to open up the economy.

This helped push the global total past 25 million cases.

Home to 1.3 billion people, India is already the world's third most infected nation with more than 3.5 million cases, behind the US and Brazil.

It has also reported more than 63,000 deaths, according to the official Health Ministry toll.

The US set the previous record on July 17 with 77,638 daily infections, according to an AFP tally.

In his regular monthly radio address yesterday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi did not comment on the milestone but called on Indians to observe health safety measures.

"It is important that every citizen is healthy and happy, and we defeat coronavirus completely together," Mr Modi said in Hindi. "Corona(virus) can be defeated only when you remain safe, when you fulfil the resolve of keeping a safe distance of two yards (1.8m) and wearing masks."

The virus has badly hit megacities such as financial hub Mumbai and capital New Delhi, and is now also surging in smaller cities and rural areas.

The daily case record came a day after the government further eased its lockdown, in place since late March, to boost the struggling economy. Millions have lost their jobs since the start of the lockdown, with the poor particularly hard hit.

The Home Affairs Ministry said gatherings of up to 100 would be allowed with face masks and social distancing at cultural, entertainment, sports and political events from next month. Metro train services would also resume "in a graded manner" in major cities.

Schools remain closed but students can meet teachers on a voluntary basis on school premises if needed, according to the new guidelines.

Meanwhile, South Korea reported its 17th day of triple-digit rises yesterday, as restrictions on dining at restaurants, pubs and bakeries in the densely populated Seoul area took effect.

There were 299 new infections as of Saturday midnight, the slowest daily rise in five days, bringing the national tally to 19,699 cases with 323 deaths.

On Friday, the country extended phase two social distancing rules - the second strictest level - for at least another week and announced tougher rules on places with high risks of virus spread.

New cases in Australia's state of Victoria returned to the triple digits yesterday, while neighbouring New Zealand said it would ease curbs slightly in its largest city, hit by a resurgence of infections.

Victoria reported 114 new cases, a day after the daily tally fell to 94, its lowest in nearly two months. Its capital, Melbourne, is four weeks into a six-week hard lockdown.

New Zealand reported two new cases yesterday, taking its tally of infections to 1,378, while the death toll stands at 22. - AFP, REUTERS

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