Cases resurging in South Asia | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, October 30, 2020 / LAST MODIFIED: 02:12 AM, October 30, 2020

Cases resurging in South Asia

India passes 8m cases; Colombo, Pak cities announce lockdowns

India passed eight million coronavirus cases, Colombo imposed a lockdown and Pakistan extended curbs yesterday as South Asia braces for a new wave of the pandemic. 

The novel coronavirus has killed at least 1,175,992 people since the outbreak emerged in China last December, according to a tally from official sources compiled by AFP at 11:00 GMT yesterday.  At least 44,561,260 cases of coronavirus have been registered.

On Wednesday, 6,979 new deaths and 479,389 new cases were recorded worldwide. Based on latest reports, the countries with the most new deaths were United States with 1,000 new deaths, followed by India with 517 and Brazil with 510.

Despite the huge number of cases, India has one of the world's lowest death rates and the government has highlighted the slowing number of new infections in recent weeks.

But authorities are preparing for a new surge after Diwali, the country's most important religious festival on November 14. Textiles Minister Smriti Irani has become the latest of several cabinet members to test positive.

Experts have said crowds gathering for Diwali and other festivals, colder temperatures and the annual winter pollution crisis could worsen the impact of coronavirus cases across the country.

In Sri Lanka, Colombo will go back into lockdown from today following a surge in coronavirus cases, authorities said yesterday.

The South Asian island nation of 21 million people has reported more than 9,200 Covid-19 infections, with over half detected in the past three weeks after more than a thousand garment factory workers tested positive.

Around 5.5 million people living in the capital Colombo and two neighbouring districts would be only allowed to move around for essential services, health officials said.

The lockdown for three days could be extended depending on the pace of infections, they added.

In Pakistan, a mandatory mask order came into force in cities yesterday.

Pakistani health officials on Wednesday unveiled a string of new measures that began from Thursday, including mandatory mask orders in the country's major urban areas, lockdowns in hotspots, and restrictions on some businesses' operating hours.

Pakistan has confirmed more than 331,000 cases including over 6,700 deaths since the virus entered the country in late February.

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