NEW DELHI — India’s increasing coronavirus caseload made the Asian giant the pandemic’s second-worst-hit country behind the United States on Monday as its efforts to head off economic disaster gain urgency.
The 90,802 cases added in the past 24 hours pushed India’s total past Brazil with 4.2 million cases. India is now only behind the United States, where more than 6.2 million people have been infected, according to Johns Hopkins University.
India’s Health Ministry on Monday also reported 1,016 deaths for a total of 71,642, the third-highest national toll.
The world’s second-most populous country with 1.4 billion people, India has been recording the world’s largest daily increases in coronavirus cases for almost a month. Despite over 2 million new cases in the past month and the virus spreading through the country’s smaller towns and villages, the Indian government has continued relaxing restrictions to try and resuscitate the economy.
On Monday, the Delhi Metro — a rapid transit system that serves India’s sprawling capital New Delhi and adjoining areas — resumed operations after five months.
Only asymptomatic people were allowed to board the chugging trains, with masks, social distancing and temperature checks mandatory.
“We are on our way. It’s been 169 days since we’ve seen you!,” the official Twitter account of Delhi Metro tweeted.
The capital’s metro train network is India’s largest rapid transport system. Before closing down in March, the packed trains carried an average of 2.6 million passengers daily.
The reopening comes after India’s economy shrank faster than any other major nation’s, nearly 24 per cent in the last quarter.
India’s economic pain dates to the demonetization of the nation’s currency in 2016 and a hasty rollout of a goods and services tax the next year. But the harsh virus lockdown that started on March 24 further exacerbated the country’s economic woes.
When Prime Minister Narendra Modi ordered 1.4 billion Indians to stay indoors, the whole economy shut down within four hours. Millions lost their jobs instantly and tens and thousands of migrant workers, out of money and fearing starvation, poured out of cities and headed back to villages. The unprecedented migration not only hollowed out India’s economy but also spread the virus to the far reaches of the country.
Photo credit: AP Photo/Anupam Nath
News source: The Associated Press