India hits record number of daily infections
NEW DELHI: India added a record number of coronavirus cases yesterday, approaching Russia as the world's third most infected nation as it opens a mass treatment centre in the capital to fight the pandemic.
The Health Ministry reported just under 25,000 cases and 613 deaths in 24 hours - the biggest daily spike since the first case was detected in late January.
The sharp rise came as Delhi started treating patients at a spiritual centre converted into a sprawling isolation facility and hospital with 10,000 beds, many made of cardboard.
About the size of 20 football fields, the facility will treat mild symptomatic and asymptomatic cases.
State government officials fear the metropolis could record more than half-a-million cases by the end of the month.
India's surge took its total tally to more than 673,000 cases and 19,268 deaths.
A strict lockdown in place since late March has gradually been lifted, allowing most activities as the economy nosedived amid the shutdown.
Schools, metro trains in cities, cinemas, gyms and swimming pools remain closed, however, and international flights are still grounded.
The authorities have made wearing masks mandatory in public places, while large gatherings are banned and shops and other public establishments are required to implement social distancing.
The western state of Maharashtra, the worst-hit state and home to financial hub Mumbai, recorded more than 7,000 new cases. Southern Tamil Nadu state and New Delhi recorded more than 4,200 and 2,500 fresh cases respectively.
In a separate development, the Taj Mahal will reopen today for visitors, but people will have to wear masks at all times, keep their distance and not touch its glistening marble surfaces.
Only 5,000 tourists will be allowed in a day, split into two groups, a far cry from peak levels of 80,000 a day who would swarm the 17th-century mausoleum built in the northern city of Agra by Mughal emperor Shah Jahan for his wife, in a 22-year effort.
"All centrally protected monuments and sites shall be bound by the protocols such as sanitisation, social distancing and other health protocols," the Tourism Ministry said. - AFP, REUTERS