Sunday Aug 30, 2020
India on Sunday set the record for the highest-single day jump in coronavirus cases in the world as the country eased lockdown restrictions despite a surge in coronavirus cases and deaths in the country.
India has the world's fastest growing number of recorded cases, now at 3.5 million, and more than 62,000 pandemic deaths. It is currently the third worst hit country in the world behind the United States and Brazil.
Its single day tally of 78,761 coronavirus infections on Sunday was the highest reported by any nation since the pandemic began.
It surpassed a July 16 figure of 77,299 cases in the United States, a Reuters tally of official data showed.
Maharashtra, India’s wealthiest and most urbanised state, recorded 331 fatalities, the steepest single-day increase among all states, followed by the southern state of Karnataka with 136 deaths.
The world’s second most populous nation is the third worst affected globally after the United States and Brazil, but its daily tallies have exceeded those of the other two countries for almost two weeks.
But the government faces pressure to free up the economy as millions have lost jobs since nationwide restrictions were first imposed in March.
The Home Affairs Ministry said that gatherings of up to 100 people would be allowed with face masks and social distancing at cultural, entertainment, sports and political events from next month.
Metro train services will also be allowed to resume "in a graded manner" in major cities.
The coronavirus has badly hit mega cities such as Mumbai and New Delhi, but is now surging in smaller cities and rural areas.
The new government guidelines ordered schools and colleges to remain closed but students can meet teachers on a voluntary basis on school premises if needed.
The government has resisted a mass campaign by students to postpone entrance exams for medical and engineering colleges due to be taken by about two million students next month.
Students say they fear catching the virus in exam halls across the country. Authorities say they are taking special measures for the exams.
The government also said individual states could not impose general lockdowns outside of areas that are considered 'containment zones' where clusters of cases have been reported. Several states have imposed tougher measures in recent weeks because of the rise in cases.
The main opposition Congress party has called for Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government to set out a firm plan to stop the spread of the pandemic.
With more than 70,000 cases being added each day, experts say it could be many weeks before the pandemic peaks in the country of 1.3 billion people.