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Coronavirus

India surpasses Brazil as No. 2 in COVID-19 infections

Modi government sticks to reopening as nation now trails only the US in infections

A healthcare worker takes a swab from a woman amid the strengthening coronavirus outbreak in Ahmedabad, India, on Sept. 4.

NEW DELHI -- India reported 90,802 new coronavirus cases on Monday, its largest increase ever, as it became the pandemic's second worst-hit country.

The nation's more than 4.2 million cases put it above Brazil, which has confirmed about 4.14 million cases.

The U.S., with almost 6.3 million cases and nearly 190,000 deaths, remains far and away the worst-hit nation.

India, which has reported more than 90,000 new infections for two days in a row, has the world's fastest-growing caseload.

Also on Monday, the South Asian nation confirmed an additional 1,016 deaths, bringing the country total to 71,642, according to data released by the health ministry.

A passenger exits the ticket wickets at a Delhi metro station on Monday, September 7, 2020, the first day for the city's commuter trains to resume operations.   © Reuters

The government, led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, has been gradually reopening, in particular since June. It had imposed a strict nationwide lockdown in late March that ground economic activity to a halt. India's gross domestic product contracted 23.9% year-on-year in the quarter ended June, the worst quarter on record.

Metro train services on Monday resumed in some cities, including New Delhi, in a graded manner, after remaining dark for over five months. Schools and colleges are operating online, while cinemas, entertainment parks and swimming pools are still closed.

On Sept. 21, social, academic, entertainment, sports, cultural, religious and political functions will be allowed, though with a cap of 100 attendees. Face masks, thermal screening and other precautions will be mandatory, according to an order issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs.

India's active caseload stands at 882,542, which is 21% of all confirmed cases; 77.3% of patients have recovered. The states of Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Uttar Pradesh and Tamil Nadu account for more than 60% of the total active cases, according to an official statement released on Sept. 5.

"Of these, the three states of Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka account for nearly 49% of the active cases and more than 57% of COVID deaths," the statement says. The central government has exhorted these states to undertake aggressive measures to break the chain of transmission.

"The states have been advised to proactively ensure higher testing, effective clinical management to lower fatality and save lives along with efficient monitoring at various levels," the statement says.

India has 28 states and eight union territories.

The country's fatality rate is below 2%. India's "comprehensive and calibrated" actions within the test-track-treat strategy "have resulted in a low mortality rate," the health ministry tweeted on Monday morning. "Sustained efforts through early diagnosis, & timely and effective treatment continue to steadily push the [case fatality rate] down."

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