Coronavirus cases in India top 7 million before festivals

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For Rajendra Jadhav

MUMBAI, India (Reuters) – The number of coronavirus cases in India reached 7 million on Sunday, when the Ministry of Health reported 74,383 new infections in the previous 24 hours, with an increase in infections in southern states minimizing a drop in western regions.

Deaths from Covid-19 in the country have increased by 918 in the last 24 hours to 108,334, the ministry said.

India added 1 million cases in just 13 days, according to a government data count from Reuters, and has the second highest number of infections, behind the United States, which is approaching the 8 million mark, and the front of Brazil.

The southern state of Kerala, which won praise for the way it linked to the epidemic, on Saturday reported 11,755 new cases, the country’s highest count.

Neighboring Karnataka and its capital, Bangalore, where many software companies are based, are also trying to stem the spread of the virus.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government, faced with an economic crisis after imposing a rigid blockade to try to contain the spread of the virus in late March, is moving forward with the country’s full opening just before the festival season.

But India’s festival season, which culminates in October and November with the popular Hindu celebrations of Dussehra and Diwali, presents additional challenges as authorities try to curb the usual big public celebrations and travel across the country.

Typically, the festival season brings a huge spike in consumer spending, and the darker atmosphere this year will further damage the economy, which contracted almost 25% in the three months prior to June – the worst number ever recorded.

Some states, such as Maharashtra and Gujarat, in the west, placed restrictions against agglomerations during the Navratri festival, which lasts nine days and is due to begin on October 17.

“The festival season is approaching. A little carelessness from people during the festivals can make the situation worse,” India’s Health Minister Harsh Vardhan said on Sunday.

“There is no need to meet in large numbers to prove your faith or religion. If we do that, we could be in big trouble,” said Vardhan.

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