India’s coronavirus cases cross 200,000, peak still weeks away

India’s infections are rising as it ends a severe lockdown of its 1.3 billion people imposed in March. Above, recovered COVID-19 patients collect certificates from hospital staff as they leave a hospital in Siliguri on June 2, 2020. (AFP)
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Updated 03 June 2020

India’s coronavirus cases cross 200,000, peak still weeks away

  • Cases jumped by 8,909 over the previous day in one of the highest single-day spikes
  • Infections are rising as it ends a severe lockdown of its 1.3 billion people imposed in March

NEW DELHI: India’s coronavirus infections crossed 200,000, official figures showed on Wednesday, and a peak could still be weeks away in the world’s second-most populous country, where the economy has begun re-opening after a lockdown imposed in March.
Cases jumped by 8,909 over the previous day in one of the highest single-day spikes, taking the tally to 207,615, the health ministry said.
“We are very far away for the peak,” said Dr. Nivedita Gupta, of the government-run Indian Council of Medical Research. Government officials have previously said it could be later this month, or even July, before cases start to fall off.
The death toll from the disease stood at 5,815.
Six other nations, including the United States, Britain and Brazil, have higher caseloads, and in India’s favor, at least its mortality rate has been comparably low.
But India’s infections are rising as it ends a severe lockdown of its 1.3 billion people imposed in March.
The lockdown has crippled the economy and left tens of thousands without work.
As train and bus services open, migrant workers are traveling home from the coronavirus hot spots of Mumbai and Delhi to the hinterland where infections are starting to rise, health officials say.
These included states such as Bihar, Odisha and Uttarakhand which traditionally supply the bulk of migrant workers.
Still, Gupta said relative to its large population, India had done well in tackling the disease. “Our preventive measures have been very effective. We are in a much better position vis-a-vis other countries,” she said.
Officials say the lockdown helped limit the spread of the virus, giving space to hospitals to deal with those affected. India’s fatality rate of 2.82 percent against the global average of 6.13 percent was among the lowest in the world, Lav Agarwal, joint secretary in the health ministry, said.
“We have been able to achieve this due to timely identification of cases and proper clinical management,” he said.


Four in Daniel Pearl case to remain jailed in Pakistan for now

Updated 02 July 2020

Four in Daniel Pearl case to remain jailed in Pakistan for now

  • A Karachi court sparked outrage when it acquitted British-born militant Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh and three other men who had been convicted of Pearl’s murder
  • The men were kept in custody following their acquittals, under a law allowing authorities to detain high-profile militants for three months

ISLAMABAD: Pakistani authorities renewed the detention orders Thursday for four men whose convictions in the kidnapping and killing of US journalist Daniel Pearl had been overturned, meaning they will remain jailed at least three more months, an official said.
A Karachi court sparked outrage in April when it acquitted British-born militant Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh and three other men convicted in Pearl’s 2002 kidnapping and beheading.
The men were kept in custody following their acquittals, under a law allowing authorities to detain high-profile militants for three months.
“We have received orders from the (provincial) government for them to be detained for a further three months,” a prisons official in Karachi’s Sindh province told AFP on condition of anonymity.
Pakistan’s supreme court is expected to hear an appeal of the acquittal cases in September.
Pearl, 38, was South Asia bureau chief for The Wall Street Journal when he was abducted in Karachi in January 2002 while researching a story on extremists.
A graphic video showing his decapitation was delivered to the US consulate in the city nearly a month later.
Observers at the time said the killers were acting out of revenge for Pakistan’s support of the US-led invasion of neighboring Afghanistan.