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India COVID-19 Cases Near One Million

India COVID-19 Cases Near One Million

Thursday, 16 July, 2020 - 08:45
India's health system is in danger of being overwhelmed by the coronavirus, which the Red Cross said was spreading across south Asia "at an alarming rate" - AFP
Asharq Al-Awsat

As India's COVID-19 cases on course to hit one million on Friday or Saturday, local authorities across the country are reimposing restrictions that have only recently been lifted.

As fatalities caused by the pandemic are on the verge of reaching 25,000, one of the country's most impoverished states went into lockdown Thursday.

The lockdown in the northern state bordering Nepal started as India reported more than 600 deaths in the previous 24 hours, and the Red Cross warned the virus was spreading at "an alarming rate" across south Asia, AFP reported..

Bihar, a largely rural state with feeble health infrastructure, went into a 15-day lockdown at midnight, a day after IT hub Bangalore -- home to 13 million people -- shut down for a week.

All schools and non-essential businesses were ordered to close in Bihar, but construction and agricultural activity allowed to continue.

And while public transport was shut down, private vehicles are still allowed to operate, and an AFP reporter in the state capital Patna said traffic appeared to be as busy as ever on Thursday morning.

"We have not faced such a situation in my life before, it is really a horrible experience," said Radhika Singh, a housewife in her late 40s as she jostled to buy rice and lentils Wednesday before the lockdown started.

A lack of virus discipline forced Goa, another Indian state, to announced a three-day shutdown from Thursday evening and a night curfew until August 10.

Chief minister Pramod Sawant said too many people were "stepping out to meet people at parties" and that there was a low level of "awareness and sensitivity".

"We have more than 40,000 people fined for not wearing masks, plus there are many who are detained for flouting rules, but they continue to loiter," Sawant told local media.

"This only establishes that people only understand the language of the law."

While India has reported almost 970,000 cases, the pandemic is also still raging in Pakistan and Bangladesh with almost 260,000 and 195,000 cases respectively.

In total the three countries have recorded more than 1.4 million cases and almost 33,000 deaths, according to official figures that many experts say in reality are much higher.

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