World

India’s IT hub Bengaluru locks down again as coronavirus cases surge

BENGALURU : India's IT hub Bengaluru went into a seven-day lockdown yesterday as the number of coronavirus cases in the country surged towards a million with about 500 people dying daily.

After imposing one of the world's strictest lockdowns in late March, India has been steadily easing rules to lessen the huge economic impact.

But infections have continued to soar.

India has 906,752 cases with 28,498 new infections reported yesterday, according to data from the federal health ministry - the third highest total in the world behind Brazil and the United States.

The country has nearly 24,000 deaths.

In Bengaluru, places of worship, public transport, government offices and most shops will shut down again from the evening, and people will be confined to their homes, only allowed out for essential needs.

Schools, colleges and restaurants will stay shut, the authorities said.

Bengaluru, home to some of the world's biggest IT companies, such as Infosys, had only about 1,000 Covid-19 cases in the middle of last month and was seen to have done better than other parts of India in terms of testing and contact tracing.

But the number has grown to nearly 20,000 as of Monday, which health experts blamed on the lifting of restrictions last month.

A new lockdown has also been imposed in the western city of Pune, which on Monday reported a record 1,333 new infections, taking its total to 40,000 with 23 deaths.

Other states, including Uttar Pradesh have also introduced new restrictions.

Kerala, in the south, which earlier won plaudits for its handling of the pandemic, has also implemented tight controls in around a dozen areas, including state capital Thiruvananthapuram, until July 23.

The state has seen cases shoot up to more than 8,000 following the return of people from the Middle East.

Kerala last week extended until July next year rules on the wearing of masks and social distancing, as well as limiting numbers of people at weddings.

In a glimmer of hope, Delhi has seen activity return to normal.

On Monday, it reported 1,246 new infections - the lowest in 35 days. - AFP, REUTERS

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