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India confirms 9 million coronavirus infections

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Friday 20 November 2020

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The total number of coronavirus cases reported in India has exceeded 9 million, a milestone so far achieved only by the United States.

But new infections appear to be declining in India, with 45,882 new cases reported Friday, compared to daily counts which were more than double that figure in September.

Some scientists questioned reliability of India’s diet and test kits.

India’s workload hit 9,004,365 on Friday. It is the second highest in the world, behind the United States, which has confirmed 11,717,951 cases, according to Johns Hopkins University. Brazil is third, with nearly 6 million cases, but its death toll is higher than that of India.

Because India’s population is so large, nearly 1.4 billion, the country’s per capita infection rate remains much lower than that of these countries. About 0.6% of people in India have tested positive for the coronavirus since the start of the pandemic.

The Indian capital, New Delhi, remains a hotspot, as does the state of Gujarat, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, where a weekend curfew has been imposed in the city of Ahmedabad.

In Delhi, a peak in infections coincided with the Hindu festival season, when families gather in large groups, and a subsequent spike in air pollution, which Scientists say it is exacerbating transmission and severity of COVID-19. Local authorities are sending additional doctors from other states and requisitioning intensive care beds in private hospitals, as public hospitals are nearly full. On Friday, they quadrupled the fine for those arrested not wearing masks in public to 2,000 rupees (about $ 27).

But other restrictions have been lifted across India as the government struggles to revive the economy. Most of the markets, cinemas, restaurants and gymnasiums are open. Schools remain closed in Delhi, but open in many other states.

In March, India imposed world’s largest coronavirus lockdown, with only a few hours’ notice, when the country’s workload was relatively low. Modi attributes this action to stopping the early spread of the virus.

But he left many Indians, especially the working poor, desperation, after factories and public transport closed. Amid reports of famine, the government reversed the trend and lifted its lockdown in early June. Indian economy decreased by almost 24% during this period. Its central bank confirmed this month the country entered a recession for the first time in its democratic history.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To learn more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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