India overtook Brazil on Monday as the country with the second highest number of confirmed coronavirus cases, even as key metro train lines re-opened as part of efforts to boost the South Asian nation’s battered economy.
India has emerged in recent weeks as the new global pandemic hotspot, although cases continue to soar across the globe with reported infections worldwide nearing 27 million and deaths surpassing 880,000.
France, Israel and Australia were among the nations forced in recent days to extend travel restrictions or impose new ones to try and contain fresh surges.
India, home to some of the world’s most densely populated cities, has been reporting the highest single-day rises in the world and on Monday it confirmed a new record of nearly 91,000 new cases.
India’s cases have now risen above 4.2 million, surpassing Brazil’s total and making it the second-highest tally behind the United States’ 6.25 million.
However, with India’s economy imploding following months of travel restrictions, authorities pressed on with risky reignition plans.
The metro in the capital of New Delhi began reopening on Monday after a five-month shutdown and 12 other cities began restarting subway services.
Authorities imposed strict rules on passengers, with masks, social distancing and temperature checks mandatory.
During peak hour in New Delhi on Monday morning, carriages were sparsely filled as people followed guidelines dictating that only alternate seats could be occupied.
For total deaths worldwide, the United States has the most with more than 188,000, followed by Brazil with 126,000. India is next with about 71,000 fatalities.
New European spikes
Britain is battling another spike, with the number of daily cases hitting nearly 3,000 on Sunday, a level not seen since late May, according to health ministry figures.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock said the latest sufferers were predominantly young people.
“It’s important that people don’t allow this illness to infect their grandparents and to lead to the sort of problems that we saw earlier in the year,” he said.
The British government said it would tighten local restrictions in areas showing sharp rises in cases rather than impose a second national lockdown for fear of its effect on the economy.
In neighbouring France authorities placed seven more regions covering major cities including Lille, Strasbourg and Dijon on high alert Sunday as increases in infections accelerate.
Of the country’s 101 “departments”, 28 are now considered “red zones” where authorities will be able to impose exceptional measures to slow the virus if necessary.
The curbs come after France reported a record of nearly 9,000 daily cases on Friday, In Paris masks are now mandatory in all public spaces.
Lockdowns have also been imposed or extended Israel and Australia in recent days.
Israel decided Sunday to begin “a nightly closure” of 40 cities and towns with the highest infection rates.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said “educational institutions” would be closed and gatherings limited from Monday.
“I know these limitations are not easy, but in the current situation, there’s no way to avoid them,” Netanyahu said.
According to data collected by AFP, Israel has risen to fifth in the world for the number of infections per capita, ahead of Brazil and the United States.
In Spain, the government is trying to restart schools even as it records the highest number of new infections on the European continent.
Some Spanish parents are refusing to send their children back to class for the new school year despite the threat of sanctions from authorities.
“You have your whole life to learn, but if you lose your health, that’s it,” said Aroa Miranda, a 37-year-old mother-of-two in the coastal town of Castellon de la Plana.
“Going back to school is being treated like an experiment, we’re like guinea pigs… for my eight-year-old, I will pretend he’s ill so I don’t have to send him to school.”