A groom, bride and relatives wearing face masks wait to perform rituals of their social marriage funtion, during a lockdown in Kolkata on Wednesday. AFP
A woman looks at 'rakhis' (sacred thread) at a shop in Amritsar. AFP
With the present phase 2 of unlocking India ending at midnight on July 31, the Ministry of Home Affairs issued a new set of guidelines permitting a package of activities outside containment zones. It extended the lockdown — including night curfew — up to the end of August in areas severely hit by the coronavirus pandemic.
International air travel will continue to be restricted during "Unlock-3" to repatriation flights bringing back Indian citizens from abroad and limited air services permitted by the Ministry of Home Affairs.
The country of 1.3 billion people — the world's third-most infected nation — has gradually eased its virus restrictions imposed since late March to boost the flagging economy.
A bride wearing a face mask is being prepared before performing rituals of her social marriage function. AFP
But the latest reopenings from Aug.5 are limited to gyms and yoga teaching facilities, as well as an end to the curfew, currently from 10pm to 5am.
Case numbers in India are soaring and more states are reimposing shutdowns to stem the spread of the virus.
Independence Day celebrations on Aug.15 will go ahead, but with "social distancing and by following other health protocols" such as mask-wearing, the home affairs ministry said.
Metro train services, cinemas, swimming pools, entertainment parks, theatres, bars, auditoriums and assembly halls will remain closed for now, it added.
Schools and other educational institutions will also remain shut through the end of August, at least.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi said this week that India was in a "better position that other countries," and winning international praise.
Migrant workers walk to a bus terminus during West Bengal state lockdown. AP
The health ministry website — which no longer includes total infections as the government puts more emphasis on recoveries — on Wednesday reported almost 50,000 new infections and 768 more deaths.
India, home to some of the world's most crowded cities and where health-care spending per capita is among the world's lowest, passed one million cases only 12 days ago.
But many experts have said the country is not testing enough people, and that many coronavirus-linked deaths are not being recorded as such.WAM / Agence France-Presse
The tally of confirmed infections is 10.96 million, the second highest after the United States, with more than 156,000 deaths. But actual infections could range as high as 300 million, a government serological survey showed this month.
"Lots of new cases of COVID-19 infections in children are coming in this second wave and the numbers are much, much higher than they were earlier," Dr Krishan Chugh, head of the department of paediatrics at Fortis Memorial Research Institute, Gurgaon, said.
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.
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.
Sheikh Sultan Bin Tahnoon Al Nahyan, Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Frontline Heroes Office, said we are rapidly approaching the figure of 25 million COVID vaccines administered.
Also, for the first time in the history of the weekly draw, 7 Emirati second prize winners have topped the list of 22 Arab winners representing Lebanon, Jordan Syria, Egypt, Oman and Yemen.
"The 1.5 billion euros ($1.5 billion) was brought to the table today. It's money that will be used in 2022, this year and next year," Danish Defence Minister Morten said during a news conference.
Lieutenant Colonel Muhammad Abdul Rahman Bin Qasmol, Acting Director of Wasit Comprehensive Police Station, honoured Ziyad Rashid Maydan in appreciation of his honesty and keenness to hand over a wallet containing official documents and a large sum of money, which he found in an area of Sharjah.