India closes on Russia toll as coronavirus cases hit daily record

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An Indian health worker closes the door of an ambulance after picking up a COVID-19 positive patient in Gauhati, India, Saturday, July 4, 2020. (AP)
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People wait in a queue to interact with their relatives through a video phone facility set up by a COVID- 19 help desk outside a hospital, in New Delhi, India, Friday, July 3, 2020. (AP)
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A worker cleans a floor at the Commonwealth Games (CWG) Village Sports Complex, temporary converted into COVID-19 coronavirus care centre, in New Delhi on July 5, 2020. (AFP)
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A man speaks with his mother who has been admitted in a COVID-19 hospital through a video phone facility by the COVID help desk, as another leaves crying after talking to her relative, outside a hospital, in New Delhi, India, Friday, July 3, 2020. (AP)
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Updated 05 July 2020

India closes on Russia toll as coronavirus cases hit daily record

  • The health ministry reported just under 25,000 cases and 613 deaths in 24 hours
  • The sharp rise came as Delhi started treating patients at a spiritual center converted into a sprawling isolation facility and hospital with 10,000 beds

NEW DELHI: India added a record number of coronavirus cases Sunday, approaching Russia as the world’s third-most infected nation as it opens a mass treatment center in the capital to fight the pandemic.
The health ministry reported just under 25,000 cases and 613 deaths in 24 hours — the biggest daily spike since the first case was detected in late January.
The sharp rise came as Delhi started treating patients at a spiritual center converted into a sprawling isolation facility and hospital with 10,000 beds, many made of cardboard.
About the size of 20 football fields, the facility will treat mild symptomatic and asymptomatic cases.
State government officials fear the metropolis could record more than half-a-million cases by the end of the month.
India’s surge took the total tally to more than 673,000 cases and 19,268 deaths, with the country on the cusp of surpassing badly-hit Russia.
A strict lockdown in place since late March has gradually been lifted, allowing most activities as the economy nose-dived amid the shutdown.
Schools, metro trains in cities, cinemas, gyms and swimming pools remain closed however and international flights are still grounded.
Authorities have made wearing masks mandatory in public places, while large gatherings are banned and shops and other public establishments are required to implement social distancing.
The western state of Maharashtra, the worst-hit state and home to financial hub Mumbai, recorded over 7,000 new cases.
Southern Tamil Nadu state and the national capital New Delhi recorded more than 4,200 and 2,500 fresh cases respectively.
Mumbai, Delhi and Chennai, Tamil Nadu’s capital, are the worst-affected cities.
The national government says it has tackled the virus well but critics allege India is conducting very few tests, leaving the true scale of the pandemic unknown.


Sri Lanka casts its vote under shadow of virus

Updated 06 August 2020

Sri Lanka casts its vote under shadow of virus

  • Security crackdown as more than 7,400 candidates contest twice-delayed election

COLOMBO: Sri Lanka went to the polls on Wednesday to elect 225 members to its 9th Parliament amid tight security and health precautions to limit the coronavirus pandemic.

The polls were twice-delayed after President Gotabaya Rajapaksa dissolved the assembly in March and postponed polls scheduled for April due to the outbreak, before finally deciding on Aug. 5 as the date for general elections.

Mahinda Deshapriya, chairman of the Sri Lanka Elections Commission (EC), said police had been given “shooting orders” in case of security breaches and strict health protocols had been introduced at polling booths.

Deshapriya said that all 12,985 polling booths had been sanitized as a preventive measure.

The elections were completed at an estimated cost of $48.6 million, up from the $37.8 million spent during last year’s presidential polls.

Speaking to Arab News on Wednesday, Samuel Ratnajeevan Hoole, an EC member, said that a 60 percent turnout by noon was a “good sign of voters’ response.”

“Our voters are matured and informed now, and they will choose whom they want irrespective of any racial or religious differences,” he said, adding that there were fewer poll-related complaints this year compared with previous elections.

There were 46 registered political parties and 313 independent groups vying for the 225-seat parliament, with a total of 7,452 candidates in the fray – 3,652 fielded by 46 parties and 3,800 representing 313 independent groups.

According to the EC, nearly 16,263,885 registered voters could make their choice at the elections.

At this election, 196 members are to be elected at the district level under the proportional representation system to the 225-member parliament, while 29 members will be chosen from the National List. Under the 1978 constitution, the members are elected to the 9th Parliament.

Dr. Ruwan Wijemuni, general director of health services in Colombo, credited the voters for “lending their cooperation in full to make it a grand success.” At the same time, police spokesman Jaliya Senaratne said there were no reports of violence from any part of the island.

“There were minor scuffles on the eve of the polls in some parts of the island which were settled then and there,” he added.

Ismathul Rahman, 57, from the coastal town of Negombo, told Arab News that this year people were “keen to elect the right people” for their respective electorate as it was “crucial for the country’s economy.”

“It was a peaceful poll without any remarkable incidents of violence. The EC has managed the show well,” said Khalid Farook, 70, former president of the All-Ceylon Young Men’s Muslim Association, Wednesday.