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Hind Al Soulia - Riyadh - India has passed the grim milestone of 20,000 deaths from the coronavirus, with case numbers surging past 700,000.
The country reported 467 new deaths in the last 24 hours, taking the toll to 20,160. It also recorded 22,252 new infections, increasing the total to 719,665.
The rate of new virus infections and deaths in India are now rising at their fastest pace. Health officials fear the number of deaths could rise significantly in the coming weeks.
India, with a population of 1.3 billion, is the third worst-affected nation in the world. Only the United States and Brazil have had more cases.
But its death rate per 10,000 people is still a low 0.15, compared with 3.97 in the United States and 6.65 in the United Kingdom, according to a Reuters tally.
Health officials fear the number of deaths, which usually lag behind the detection of new infections, could rise significantly in coming weeks. India's death toll is currently the world's seventh highest, behind the United States, Brazil, the United Kingdom, Italy, France and Spain.
Over the first week of July, India reported an average of 450 deaths each day, compared with 250 in the first week of June, and 101 in the first week of May.
Officials on Monday withdrew a planned reopening of the Taj Mahal, citing the risk of new coronavirus infections spreading in the northern city of Agra from visitors flocking to see the 17th century monument to love.
Meanwhile Australia, a country lauded for its swift and decisive action on the pandemic is dealing with an anomaly: its second largest city seeing a surge in cases.
Melbourne has been ordered into lockdown for a second time with Victoria state Premier Daniel Andrews telling reporters on Tuesday that residents will be prohibited from leaving the metropolitan area for six weeks except to go to work or school, for care or care giving, for daily exercise, and for food and other essentials.
He said 191 more positive cases have been detected, the most infections ever recorded in a single day.
Australia has been among the world’s most successful countries in containing its coronavirus outbreak, with the exception of Melbourne. The country has recorded more than 8,500 cases and 106 deaths.
Across the water in New Zealand,the country’s national carrier has put a temporary hold on new bookings for flights into the country while the government tries to find enough quarantined hotel rooms for people returning home.
Air New Zealand says the hold will last for three weeks and it is also trying to better align flights with the hotel locations.
New Zealand has eliminated community transmission of the coronavirus but is still getting cases at the border. For the most part, only residents and citizens are able to fly into the country and must remain in a quarantined hotel room for 14 days.
Housing Minister Megan Woods says the government is currently housing nearly 6,000 people in 28 quarantine facilities and is seeing rapid growth in the number of returning residents as the pandemic worsens globally.
China, thought to be the site of the first human infection, on Tuesday reported eight new confirmed coronavirus cases, all of them brought from outside the country.
The National Health Council reported 403 people remained in treatment for Covid-19 while 121 people were in isolation being monitored as suspected cases or for testing positive for the virus without showing any symptoms.
China has reported a total of 4,634 deaths among 83,565 cases since the virus was first detected in the central city of Wuhan late last year.
Updated: July 7, 2020 01:34 PM
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