India's coronavirus cases cross 600,000 amid easing of lockdowns

India’s coronavirus infections surpassed 600,000 on Thursday, with 17,834 deaths, as authorities battled to contain the pandemic while easing lockdown rules, officials and the health ministry said, Reuters reports. 

Fresh challenges to protect people from the virus emerged for disaster management officials in the northeast state of Assam amid torrential rainfall, where floods and landslides killed 57 people this week and more than 1.5 million were forced to flee their homes.

Assam’s health minister, Himanta Biswa Sarma, said the state had started testing aggressively to identify coronavirus cases among villagers forced to take shelter in community halls, schools and government buildings.

“We were isolating new coronavirus hotspots; the situation is very critical,” Sarma told Reuters.

The increase in infections presents a severe challenge for India’s strained medical capacity and overburdened health system.

The fear of being quarantined in poorly maintained government facilities has discouraged people from getting tested, experts say, leading to fresh cases of COVID-19 even after the government imposed the world’s longest lockdown.


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