A migrant worker covers her child with a scarf as they wait to get on a bus in Ahmedabad, India. File/Reuters
India announced on Monday that it has nearly 700,000 coronavirus cases, taking it past Russia to become the third-hardest-hit nation in the global pandemic.
The health ministry said 697,358 cases had now been recorded, a rise of 24,000 in 24 hours, while Russia has just over 681,000.
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.
India has registered 19,963 deaths from the virus, a much lower number than many other badly hit countries.
India's major cities have been worst hit by the pandemic. New Delhi and Mumbai each have about 100,000 cases, with 3,000 dead in the capital and nearly 5,000 in Mumbai.
New Delhi has opened a new 10,000-bed temporary virus hospital while other cities are tightening restrictions on movement to head off a new surge in cases.
The Kerala state capital, Thiruvananthapuram imposed a new lockdown from Monday with public transport shut and only pharmacies allowed to open. The clampdown came after hundreds of new cases were reported across the state, which had been praised for its action to curtail the pandemic.
The country reported 467 new deaths in the last 24 hours, taking the toll to 20,160. It also recorded 22,252 new infections, increasing the total to 719,665.
The Health Ministry confirmed 9,985 new cases and 274 deaths in the last 24 hours. Total fatalities have reached 7,745. Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu and New Delhi are the worst-hit states.
The number of people who have recovered continues to grow. The Health Ministry data shows 677,422 patients have been cured so far across the country, putting the recovery rate at 62.82%.
The SPEA said if parents are reluctant to send kids to the schools in the first phase of reopening, they can choose the distance learning option.
The ministry announced one death due to COVID-19 complications, bringing the total number of deaths in the country to 358.
The statement comes as a big relief to Indians who were stranded due to the coronavirus pandemic.