44ºF

Asia Today: Another spike brings India past 900,000 cases

NEW DELHI – India's coronavirus cases jumped by another 28,000 on Tuesday and are fast approaching 1 million.

The 28,498 cases reported in the past 24 hours took the national total to 906,752. Cases have jumped by 100,000 in four days.

The Health Ministry also reported another 553 deaths in the past 24 hours, taking total fatalities up to 23,727.

India has largely lifted its nationwide lockdown, and the virus has been spreading at a significant rate, prompting several big cities to reimpose partial lockdowns.

The southern city of Pune started a 10-day lockdown Tuesday in an attempt to break the chain of infections. Only essential businesses including milk shops, pharmacies, doctors’ clinics and emergency services will be allowed to open.

Eight of India’s 28 states, including worst-hit Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu and New Delhi, account for nearly 90% of its cases.

India is the third worst-affected country in terms of infections behind the United States and Brazil.

In other developments in the Asia-Pacific region:

— Authorities in Thailand are urging nearly 1,900 people to quarantine themselves and get tested for the coronavirus after a breakdown in screening allowed two foreigners with the disease to pose a risk to public health. The agency coordinating Thailand’s coronavirus response also announced it is tightening regulations that had allowed the entry of some foreign visitors. Taweesilp Visanuyothin, spokesman for the Center for COVID-19 Situation Administration, said a contract tracing app showed that 1,882 people may have crossed paths with an infected member of a visiting Egyptian military team. He asked them to self-isolate for 14 days and get tested as soon as possible. Seven people already known to have had direct contact with the Egyptian have already been quarantined. Officials in the eastern province of Rayong closed several schools and a mall, sealed off part of the hotel where the Egyptians stayed and gave free coronavirus tests to people who feared they had contact with the infected man. The second case involves the infected 9-year-old daughter of a foreign diplomat whose family returned from Sudan and stayed in their condominium in Bangkok.

— Australia’s Queensland state is toughening the punishment for those who break coronavirus quarantine rules. Queensland Deputy Premier Steven Miles said the current fines for breaking a mandatory 14-day hotel quarantine for some visitors or lying about their whereabouts may not be a sufficient penalty. The maximum penalty will now be a higher fine or up to six months’ imprisonment. Queensland reopened its borders to all but Victoria state residents two weeks ago. Victoria is the center of Australia's recent outbreak, adding 270 new infections overnight to its more than 4,000 active cases. The Victorian city of Melbourne is under a six-week lockdown to try to contain the outbreak.

— South Korea reported 33 new cases of COVID-19 as its prime minister called for vigilance ahead of the summer holiday season. The figures announced by the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention brought the caseload to 13,512 cases, including 289 deaths. Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun urged people to avoid crowded areas, maintain distance with others and wear masks as they travel to beaches and other areas during the holiday season.

— China said the number of people in treatment for COVID-19 in the country has fallen to just 297, with only three new cases of coronarvirus reported, all brought from outside the country. No new deaths were announced, leaving the total at 4,634 out of 83,605 cases of the disease. A pair of experts from the World Health Organization were in China on Monday to make arrangements for an investigation into how the pandemic may have spread after the virus was first detected in the central Chinese city of Wuhan late last year.