Coronavirus: India passes 20,000 deaths as Melbourne locks down

Despite many countries reopening after lengthy lockdowns, cases of coronavirus continue to rise worldwide

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 past 24 hours, taking the toll to 20,160. It also recorded 22,252 new infections, taking the tally 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 US 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 US, Brazil, the UK, 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 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 reported a surge in cases.

Melbourne has been placed under lockdown for a second time with Victoria state Premier Daniel Andrews ordering residents against 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 had been detected, the most infections recorded yet 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 hotel rooms to quarantine for people returning home.

Air New Zealand said the suspension would continue for three weeks and it was 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 they must quarantine at a hotel room for 14 days.

Housing Minister Megan Woods said the government was currently housing nearly 6,000 people in 28 quarantine centres and was expecting rapid growth in the number of returning residents as the pandemic worsened globally.

China, thought to be the site of the first human infection, on Tuesday reported eight new confirmed cases, all of them brought from outside the country.

The National Health Council said 403 were being treated for Covid-19 while 121 people were placed under isolation.

China has reported 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 03:25 PM

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