Health worker checks the temperature in New Delhi. File photo
Given India's high population density, experts have long worried that a sustained COVID-19 outbreak would lead to pressure on its stretched healthcare system.
Commuters wait as a police personnel check for valid travel credentials in Chennai. AFP
Prime Minister Narendra Modi lifted most restrictions that were part of a nearly three-month nationwide lockdown on June 8, despite the continuing rise in cases.
Data from India's federal health ministry on Friday showed an additional 13,500 cases over the previous 24 hours, with over 300 deaths.
India now lags only the United States, Brazil and Russia in total number of infections and has reported four times more than China, which has a similar size population and is where the virus originated late last year.
On Friday the southern state of Tamil Nadu imposed a lockdown with tough restrictions in Chennai and surrounding districts until June 30.
Motorists are seen on a deserted Mount road in Chennai on Friday. AFP
Roads in Chennai, known as "India's Detroit" for its large car-making industry, were largely empty on Friday and most shops were closed amid heavy police patrolling to ensure adherence to the rules.
"Police officers and medical professionals are fighting for you. Please cooperate and be hopeful," Tamil Nadu state Health Minister C Vijayabaskar said in a tweet on Friday.
"Let's follow social distancing, stay aware and win this battle against this pandemic."
Folding beds are seen at the campus of a spiritual organisation that is planning to prepare around 10,000 beds for the coronavirus patients in New Delhi. Reuters
Tamil Nadu has tested over 800,000 people for COVID-19 - the highest number in the country — and its mortality rate is nearly a third of the national average. But it has been facing criticism over delayed reporting of deaths, and the number of cases and casualties have been rising steeply in recent days, mainly in and around Chennai.
Restrictions elsewhere in India, where states have their own powers to set health rules, have largely been eased.
Roads and businesses in the capital New Delhi, where several politicians including the state health minister have tested positive for the virus, were largely open on Friday.
India has seen a jump of nearly 100,000 cases over the past week, the health ministry said. In all, the country has confirmed 548,318 cases, making it the world’s fourth-worst affected country after the United States, Brazil and Russia. India’s death toll has reached 16,475.
India on Sunday extended its nearly 2-month-old lockdown by two weeks after reporting nearly 5,000 new coronavirus cases , but said restrictions could be eased in low-risk areas to boost economic activity.
Latin American countries are bracing for difficult weeks ahead as the disease spreads rapidly across the region, even as much of the world exits lockdowns that have wrecked economies and stripped millions of their jobs.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in a televised address to the nation, said the challenge was to stop the virus from spreading to new parts of the country, but held out hope that some restrictions could be eased next week in the least-affected areas to allow essential activities.
Millions of Indians turned out to cast ballots in a state election on Wednesday in the world’s biggest vote since the coronavirus emerged, with booths packed out and many ignoring government advice on wearing masks and social distancing.
Top Turkish officials condemned a caricature scorning President Tayyip Erdogan in the French satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo on Wednesday, calling it a “disgusting effort” to “spread its cultural racism and hatred.”
Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum and Sheikh Mohamed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan expressed appreciation to this initiative of hosting a simple ceremony, given the current circumstances of COVID-19 pandemic.