World India posts record jump in COVID-19 cases, Modi says 'long battle' ahead

17:17  30 may  2020
17:17  30 may  2020 Source:   reuters.com

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NEW DELHI (Reuters) - India reported a record daily jump of 7,964 new COVID-19 infections on Saturday, with a recent surge in cases as lockdown restrictions start to ease raising the possibility that Prime Minister Narendra Modi could extend curbs beyond May 31.

In an open letter marking one year into his second term, Modi appealed to the country's population of 1.3 billion to follow all lockdown rules to stop the spread of the pandemic.

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The prime minister said there was a "long battle" ahead against the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19.

"Our country (is) besieged with problems amidst a vast population and limited resources," Modi said, adding that labourers and migrant workers had "undergone tremendous suffering" due to restrictions.

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The government could extend the lockdown beyond May 31, a home ministry official said on Saturday. The home ministry did not immediately respond to a request for further comment.

Pictures: Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak around the world

India has recorded a total of 173,763 COVID-19 cases and 4,971 deaths, making it the ninth most-affected country globally, Reuters data showed.

While fatality rates in India have been lower than in worse-hit countries, experts warned that its peak has not been reached due to mounting cases of new infections.

Officials are also nervous about the pandemic spreading through villages as millions of jobless migrant workers return home from cities.

Rights activists and the opposition have criticised Modi's handling of the pandemic, accusing him of announcing an abrupt lockdown that left the poor in the lurch and forced thousands to walk or jostle for space on buses and special trains to reach home amid the fear of getting infected.

Over 100 migrant workers have died either in accidents or due to starvation as they desperately tried to head back to their villages, the home ministry official said.

Click here for up-to-date coverage of the COVID-19 crisis on the Microsoft News app — available on Windows 10, iOS and Android

Aus, India look to solidify relations amid breakdown with China .
Prime Minister Scott Morrison has held his first ever virtual summit with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, as the two look to solidify their relationship amid a breakdown of relations with China. Speaking to India’s Prime Minister, Mr Morrison said both Australia and India “share a vision for open, free, rules-based multilateral systems in our region”.

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