NEW DELHI (AP) – India was approaching nearly half a million confirmed cases of coronavirus on Friday with the largest 24-hour peak of 17,296 new infections, delaying the resumption of regular train services by more than a month.
The new cases brought India’s total to 490,401. The Department of Health also reported 407 more deaths in the past 24 hours, bringing the total number of fatalities to 15,301.
The ministry said the recovery rate continued to improve by 57.43%. Also, the number of deaths per 100,000 was 1.86 against the world average of 6.24 per 100,000, it said.
The actual number of infections and deaths from COVID-19, as elsewhere in the world, is believed to be much higher for a number of reasons, including limited testing.
Indian Railways was scheduled to resume regular train service on June 30, but said on Thursday that it would not fully resume until August 12. Trains were halted when the government announced a nationwide blockade in late March. Since mid-May, special trains have been connecting the capitals as part of a relaxation of the closure.
Domestic flights have resumed on selected routes, but a government decision on restarting international flights is expected next month.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi urged people to strictly observe social distances and wear face masks, saying that such precautions are the only option available until a vaccine is developed.
In other developments in the Asia-Pacific region:
– Australia reported 37 new cases, including 30 in the state of Victoria, where health authorities are looking for an outbreak. Authorities said they tested 20,000 people after going door to door on Thursday in the Melbourne suburbs in their attempts to eradicate the virus. In Sydney, a 12-year-old student tested positive, forcing the closure of his school for cleaning. New Zealand, meanwhile, reported a new virus case from a returning traveler. New Zealand has 14 active cases, all returning travelers who remain in quarantine.
– South Korea reported 39 new cases, mainly from the Seoul metropolitan area, where officials have struggled to stop the broadcasts. South Korea was considered a virus success story following a February and March outbreak around the southeastern city of Daegu. However, the country is seeing an increase in the number of new infections since authorities moved to simplify social distance guidelines and reopen schools from May. The update from the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Friday brought the national total to 12,602 cases, including 282 deaths. Twelve of the new cases related to international arrivals.
– China reported a further drop in new cases on Friday, with 13. Eleven were in Beijing, where mass tests were conducted after an outbreak that appears to have been largely brought under control. The other two cases were submitted by Chinese travelers from abroad, according to the National Health Council. 260 people were infected in this month’s outbreak in Beijing, causing authorities to lock up some communities and cancel lessons. Since then, 3 million test samples have been taken from 2.43 million people.
– The Japanese capital confirmed 54 new cases of the coronavirus on Friday, a level that is concerned by the possible need for additional precautions. Japan lifted the seven-week state of emergency at the end of May, and social and business activities have largely resumed since then. Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike said the daily increase in cases is quite high, but the city’s hospitals and medical systems are not overwhelmed. Most of the new Friday cases were people in their 20s and 30s, Koike said. She said that many recent cases are related to workplaces and night clubs. Tokyo has reported 5,997 cases and 325 deaths, about a third of the national total.
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