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India Records 63,300 New Coronavirus Cases, Death Toll Jumps by 895 as Peak Festive Season Looms

An employee checks the temperature of Covid-19 warriors and their families arriving as cinemas reopen with a special screening for them at the PVR movie theater in New Delhi, on October 15, 2020. (AP Photo/Manish Swarup)

An employee checks the temperature of Covid-19 warriors and their families arriving as cinemas reopen with a special screening for them at the PVR movie theater in New Delhi, on October 15, 2020. (AP Photo/Manish Swarup)

Doctors fear fatalities could spike as bad winter air pollution may worsen the breathing difficulties that many Covid-19 patients suffer. If current trends hold, India will overtake the infection tally of the United States early next month.

New Delhi: India’s coronavirus tally neared 74 lakh on Friday with 63,371 new infections reported in the last 24 hours. As per Union health ministry data, 895 people succumbed to Covid-19 since Thursday.

India’s total Covid caseload stands at 73,70,469, including 8,04,528 active cases, and the death toll touched 1,12,161, the ministry said.

Already on track to overtake the United States with the world's most novel coronavirus infections, India is bracing for a surge of cases in coming weeks as it heads into its main holiday season with an economy freed of virus restrictions.

The recent experience of Kerala, which was praised for its initial handling of the pandemic, indicates how rapidly the situation can worsen. Reported infections there have jumped by five times since it celebrated the 10-day harvest festival of Onam in late August, far outpacing the two-fold increase in cases nationally over that time.

Still, cash-short state governments are reluctant to stop people from venturing out during Durga Puja, next week, and Diwali in mid-November.

"We will probably have more deaths out of starvation if the rural migratory population who flock to cities during the pujas and earn some money during the festivity are deprived of the opportunity," said Subrata Mukherjee, a cabinet minister in the fourth-most populous state of West Bengal, which has one of India's highest coronavirus caseloads.

But doctors fear fatalities could spike as bad winter air pollution may worsen the breathing difficulties that many Covid-19 patients suffer. If current trends hold, India will overtake the infection tally of the United States early next month.


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