Mahesh Kumar A/AP
India’s confirmed coronavirus infections have surpassed one million cases. The country crossed that threshold on Friday after registering nearly 35,000 new cases — its biggest spike so far in a 24-hour period.
India has been breaking its own record almost every day. Only the United States and Brazil have more confirmed cases, and India is slowly climbing towards Brazil’s figures. Brazil has now surpassed two million confirmed cases.
More than 25,000 people have died in India after testing positive for COVID-19.
India went into a strict lockdown in late March when there were only a few hundred cases. The lockdown may have helped slow down the virus but it proved costly for the economy and hurt India’s poor migrant workers. Millions of them were stranded in cities without work. Many starved to death on the side of highways as they tried to make their way to their villages on foot.
The government lifted the nationwide lockdown in early June and cases have been rising quickly ever since.
About a dozen Indian states have reimposed curbs on movement. The eastern state of Odisha is the latest to announce a lockdown in some areas. The popular beach destination Goa also went into lockdown after reopening for tourists earlier this month.
After surging cases in megacities such as Mumbai and New Delhi, the virus is now spreading in rural India, where the healthcare system is already overburdened.
The eastern India state of Bihar, one of the poorest in the country, has been registering about 1,000 new cases daily. The federal government says it is sending a special team to Bihar to investigate the spike there. The state will remain under lockdown till the end of the month.
Schools and colleges are shut nationwide. Metro trains and subways are halted. International flights were also grounded until recently. On Thursday, India announced that it’s establishing air bubbles, or bilateral travel corridors, with some countries to allow international air travel.
“Under this arrangement airlines from the concerned countries will be able to operate flights from & to India along with Indian carriers,” said Hardeep Singh Puri, India’s minister for civil aviation. The countries involved include the U.S., France, Germany and the United Arab Emirates.
International air travel was suspended for nearly four months. Only repatriation flights by the country’s national carrier, Air India, were permitted. Domestic flights partially resumed in late May.