Indian Air Force aircrafts fly over Rajpath to show solidarity with frontline warriors fighting against coronavirus in New Delhi. Reuters
India's air force flew aircraft low over more than a dozen cities on Sunday, part of a nationwide campaign by the armed forces to thank healthcare workers and other essential services personnel fighting the coronavirus outbreak.
So far India has recorded nearly 40,000 coronavirus cases and more than 1,300 deaths amid a weeks-long nationwide lockdown to contain the spread of the virus.
In the southern city of Bengaluru, a helicopter showered flowers over Victoria Hospital, as doctors and other medical workers in hospital gowns and masks cheered on, local television showed. A military band played alongside.
A helicopter throws rose petals on the medical staff to pay tribute in the fight against coronavirus in Mumbai. AFP
In the financial capital of Mumbai, television showed fighter jets roaring over the famous Marine Drive, which runs parallel to the Arabian Sea, as some residents craned for a view from their balconies.
Later on Sunday, navy and coast guard ships will line up along more than 30 locations on the Indian coast, with some vessels lit up and firing flares.
But the celebrations were dampened by news of the death of four Indian army personnel, including two officers, as well as a police official during a gun battle with militants in the northern Kashmir region on Saturday.
The five were killed while freeing hostages in Kashmir's Kupwara district, an Indian Army spokesman said. Two militants were also shot dead, he added.
The Health Ministry on Saturday put the total number of cases in India at 173,763 with 4,971 deaths. The total infections included 86,422 active cases and 82,369 recoveries.
The United States and Brazil have the highest numbers of cases but India's tally is not expected to peak for several more weeks and experts predict the one million figure will be passed this month.
The new infections confirmed in the past 24 hours raised India's cases to 566,840, the fourth-highest in the world. The addition of 418 deaths raised its fatalities to more 16,000, according to India’s health ministry. Experts say the true toll of the disease around the world is much higher.
Naseri Paul Biya, the governor of the central region of Cameroon, said there could be more deaths. "We are not in position to give you the total number of casualties,” he said.
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The dispute has led to the grounding of 21 planes out of 53 A350s operated by Qatar Airways and cast a pall over the airline's preparations for the World Cup later this year.
Authorities in Tonga, hit by a massive volcanic eruption and a tsunami on Jan. 15, have asked for aid to be delivered without human contact amid concerns a COVID outbreak would be devastating for the tiny Pacific island nation.