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India breaks daily world record for COVID-19 cases, nears 3rd in deaths

By Allen Cone
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India breaks daily world record for COVID-19 cases, nears 3rd in deaths
A Punjab police officer stands near barricades installed at the Gandhi Gate, during the weekend lockdown in Amritsar, India, on Sunday Another lockdown was imposed by the state government to control the spread of COVID-19. Photo by Raminder Pal Singh/EPA-EFE

Aug. 30 (UPI) -- Coronavirus has been surging in India since the first cases and deaths were reported nearly six months ago.

On Sunday, the Asian country set a world record for most cases reported in one day, 78,761, to total 3,542,733 infections, only behind the United States with more than 6 million and Brazil with nearly 4 million. Four previous times in the past week the nation exceeded 70,000 cases.

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India also reported 948 new deaths on Sunday -- following a record 1,120 on July 20 -- ranking fourth in total deaths with 63,498 and trailing Mexico by just 321 fatalities so far Sunday, according to tracking by Johns Hopkins.

Meanwhile, the United States leads the world with 182,909 deaths followed by Brazil with 120,462. Total cases globally have passed 25 million with a total of 25,068,606. Deaths were 843,826.

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In the past three months, the pandemic has accelerated in India. The death toll reached 5,608 on June 1, after the first death was announced on March 12, according to tracking by Worldometers.info. The first three cases were announced on March 2 and the case total rose to 227,476 by June 1.

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday urged people to exercise care during the coming festivity season.

"This is a time for festivals but there is a sense of discipline among people due to COVID," Modi said during his monthly radio address. "The coronavirus will be defeated only if you follow safety measures. The 2 meter distance norm [6.5 feet] should be strictly followed."

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Although deaths have surged, the nation of 1.38 billion people, the second most populous in the world, has a relatively low mortality rate of 46 deaths per million population compared to the world total of 108.7. The rate is 564 in the United States, 66 in Brazil and 494 in Mexico.

But testing has been lagging in India. The nation ranks third in the world with 41.4 million tests but that rate is only 29,997 per million compared with the U.S. with 244,798 per million with 81.1 million total tests.

China, the original epicenter and the world's most populous nation with 1.44 billion, has a world-high 90.4 million tests at 62,814 per million.

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In India, two cricket players and 11 staff members in the Indian Premier League have tested positive for coronavirus, according to a statement issued Saturday by the Board of Control for Cricket in India. All of them are asymptomatic and have been isolated from other team members.

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"Upon landing in the UAE [United Arab Emirates], all the participants have followed a mandatory testing and quarantine program. Total of 1,988 RT-PCR COVID tests were carried out between August 20th-28th across all participant groups in the UAE," the statement read.

On Sunday, India reported 958 of the total 1,522 total deaths in Asia. In all, the continent had 141,156 deaths.

Iran is the only other Asian county in the top 10 for deaths, adding 103 for a total of 21,462 in 10th place.

China has dropped to 29th in deaths and hasn't reported a death since late April. The case increase was nine.

Deaths and cases have been surging in Japan. On Saturday, the nation reported 17 deaths, for a total death toll of 1,255. The new deaths match the number two days earlier and is just short of its largest total since 19 on May 22. It cases were 850.

Japan also reported 85 new cases for a total of 67,952.

Despite the spiking number, the Japanese government said Friday it will lift coronavirus-related re-entry restrictions on foreign residents on Sept. 1. It increased testing capacity at airports. Around 2.4 million foreigners in Japan with resident status can now leave Japan and be allowed back in.

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South Korea reported two deaths for a total of 323, and 299 cases to total 19,699. It was the 17th consecutive day of triple-digit daily increases.

Seoul officials enacted a "10 Million Citizen Standstill Week" from Sunday to next Sunday, urging people to stay away from social gatherings, as 203 cases were reported in the area. There are restriction on business hours of restaurants, bakeries and franchise cafes in Seoul and the broader capital areas for one week.

The pandemic continues to surge in South America with 1,581 deaths reported Saturday and a total of 199,959 total.

Brazil reported 904 deaths Saturday for a total of 120,498. Peru is in ninth place with 28,607, including 136 Saturday. Colombia is in 11th place at 19,064, adding 297 Saturday. And Chile is 14th with 11,181, gaining 49.

Foreign travel is now allowed in Fernando de Noronha archipelago off the coast of Brazil if people have shown they have had COVID-19.

"To land on the archipelago, the tourist will need to present the result of a positive PCR test that is at least 20 days old, or the result of the serological test showing the presence of antibodies against COVID," its administrator, Guilherme Rocha, told a news conference Thursday.

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The beaches include turquoise waters, beaches of golden sand, dolphins swimming lazily offshore.

Farther north in the Western Hemisphere, Mexico also is attempting to lure visitors despite reporting 673 deaths Saturday.

Cabo San Lucas and neighboring San Jose del Cabo last month reopened to tourists. The government is allowing hotels in Cabo to fill 50% of their rooms.

"Wear a mask," one ad says, flashing to video of a woman snorkeling. "Practice social distancing."

"There are some residents who say, 'Why put my family's life in danger by inviting more visitors, restarting more flights?' " Luis Humberto Araiza López, tourism minister of Baja California Sur, told The Washington Post. "It's a delicate line between trying to support public health and economic growth."

Andres Manuel López Obrador has predicted "the tourism sector will have normalized" by the end of the year.

A travel ban for non-essential travel remains among Mexico, United States and Canada through September.

Compared with Mexico and the United States, Canada's situation has been mitigated. The nation reported six deaths Saturday for a total of 9,113, as well as 315 cases.

All but around 10,000 of the 267,457 deaths in North America have occurred in the U.S., Mexico and Canada.

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In Europe, the pandemic has largely subsided except for some spikes in cases.

On Saturday, the continent reported 184 deaths, led by Russia with 68, for a total of 207,382.

Britain has the most deaths in Europe with 41,586 and has fallen to fifth worldwide, including one Sunday compared with a high of 1,172 early in the pandemic. Italy, which at one time was the world's epicenter, is sixth with 35,477, including four Sunday and 919 in one day.

France is seventh with 30,607 deaths, including four Sunday, but reported 5,413 cases after 7,379 Friday, the highest since 7,578 on March 31. Spain, which doesn't report data on weekends, is eighth with 29,011, including 15 Friday.

Masks are now required in Paris and surrounding areas, including in public areas. French Prime Minister Jean Castex said Thursday with coronavirus "gaining ground" in nation, there will be "exponential" infection if more rules are not put in place.

Germany also has rules on face coverings, including fines. Also big events are banned through the end of the year except for areas with low infection rates.

Chancellor Angela Merkel on Friday predicted the coming months will be "even more difficult than now" because of people being outdoors during the summer.

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Germany was at one time in the top 10 for deaths but has slid to 16th with 9,363. The nation didn't report any deaths Sunday but added 192 cases. On Friday, the cases increase was 1,549.

Australia and New Zealand have experienced a surge since the start of the pandemic.

Australia's deaths have risen from 502 to 611 in one week, including 11 Sunday Case have increased by 858 in one week to 25,670, including an addition of 123 Sunday.

New Zealand hasn't reported a death since one on May 28 for a total of 22. Cases stand at 1,729 with a rise of 173 in one week.

New Zealand ends a lockdown Monday, though masks will be required on public transportation and strongly encouraged elsewhere.

"Our system is good, it is designed to keep us on track with our elimination strategy at Level 2 in the scenario we now have but it will only work if people follow the guidance," Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said Sunday.

"There is no corner that has been untouched by this cluster, that's why the rules are for everyone and we need everyone in Auckland to stick to them, no matter where you are."

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In Africa, deaths increased by 331 Saturday to 29,472, which is an increase of 2,000 in one week. South Africa leads the continent with 13,981, including 238 Saturday, about 1,000 more in a week. Egypt followed with 5,376 deaths, including an additional 14 Saturday.

South Africa has the sixth-most most cases in the world at 622,551, including 2,419 Saturday.

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