India’s confirmed coronavirus tally reached 6 million on Monday.
The country remains second to the United States in number of reported cases since the pandemic began.
The Health Ministry on Monday reported 82,170 new cases in the past 24 hours, driving the overall tally to 60,74,703, reports AP.
At least 1,039 deaths were also recorded in the same period, taking total fatalities up to 95,542.
New infections in India are currently being reported faster than anywhere else in the world.
The world’s second-most populous country is expected to become the pandemic’s worst-hit country in coming weeks, surpassing the US, where more than 7 million infections have been reported.
Coronavirus cases were first reported in China in December last year. The World Health Organisation declared it a pandemic.
Even as infections mount, India has the highest number of recovered patients in the world.
More than 5 million people have recovered from COVID-19 in India and the country’s recovery rate stands at 82 percent, according to the Health Ministry.
The pandemic disrupted the global supply chain and brought the world economy to its knees. The ILO said workers lost $3.5 trillion in wages or 5.5 percent of the overall global gross domestic product (GDP) during this pandemic.
India relaxed virus restrictions to ease economic woes but the country’s coronavirus cases increased significantly since reopening.
India reported 85,362 new coronavirus cases in the past 24 hours with infections slowing down this month, reports AP.
The Health Ministry raised the nation’s confirmed total to more than 5.9 million on Saturday.
It said 1,089 more people died in the past 24 hours, for a total of 93,379.
Authorities have decided to hold the first legislative election in Bihar state since the pandemic.
Nearly 72 million people are eligible to cast votes during three days beginning the end of October with social distancing restrictions.
The average new cases in India have fallen by around 7,000 daily in the past week, after reaching a record of 97,894 on September 16,
However, authorities are preparing for a major religious festival season beginning next month that generally sees huge congregations in temples and shopping districts.
Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan on Friday called India as a state sponsor of hatred and prejudice against Islam, reports AP.
He denounced India’s moves to cement control of Muslim-majority Kashmir.
Khan came up with the remarks while speaking at the annual UN gathering of world leaders.
He also said that Islamophobia prevails in India and threatens nearly 200 million Muslims who live there.
“They believe that India is exclusive to Hindus and others are not equal citizens,” he said in a prerecorded speech to the UN General Assembly, which is being held virtually amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Khan has frequently criticized the August 2019 decision by the government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to strip Jammu and Kashmir’s statehood, scrap its separate constitution and remove inherited protections on land and jobs.
Residents of the heavily militarized Indian-controlled region of Kashmir say security forces have arrested thousands of young men, raided people's homes, inflicted beatings and electric shocks, and threatened to take away and marry their female relatives.
Thousands of protesters over the past year have been wounded by shotgun pellets, including hundreds blinded in one or both eyes. For seven months, until March, the area was under a communications blackout, with social media and internet access banned.
“The international community must investigate these grave violations and prosecute the Indian civil and military personnel involved in state terrorism and serious crimes against humanity,” Khan said.
India responded by calling Khan's remarks “a new low” in diplomacy.
“We saw lies, misinformation, warmongering and malice spread through this assembly,” Mijito Vinito, a diplomat with India's UN mission.
Two countries traded barbed rebuttals in the assembly hall Friday night.
Vinito retorted later: “The leader of Pakistan today called for those who incite hate and violence to be outlawed. But, as he went on, we were left wondering, was he referring to himself?"
The larger Kashmir region is split between India and Pakistan, which have fought two wars over the territory.
India accuses Pakistan of arming and training insurgents fighting for Kashmir’s independence from India. Pakistan denies the charge and says it offers only diplomatic and moral support to the rebels.
Khan, as he did in his speech before the world body last year, also condemned the targeting of Muslims in many countries and provocations and incitement “in the name of free speech”, reports Al Jazeera.
“Incidents in Europe, including republication of blasphemous sketches by Charlie Hebdo, are recent examples,” he said.
The French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo reprinted the Prophet Mohammed caricatures this month that were first published in 2015.
Pakistan PM’s call amid pandemic
Khan also used his speech to call for debt relief for poor nations amid the pandemic.
He said COVID-19 illustrated that “no one is safe unless everyone is safe.” He said lockdown measures by richer countries have triggered a global recession that has hit poor countries the hardest. He touted his government's decision not to impose a wide-scale lockdown, which he said would have led to more people dying of hunger than the virus.
“However, we are still not out of the woods, like no country is out of the woods today,” Khan said.
Modi is scheduled to address the General Assembly in prerecorded remarks today.
Farmers across India hit the streets on Friday, blocking roads and railway tracks, to protest reforms they feared would hurt their livelihoods.
The fierce protests against three farm bills that were recently passed by the Indian Parliament began around 8 am, but remained concentrated in the northern states of Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh, where farm yields are high.
While the Indian government has said that the reforms will help farmers get better prices by allowing them to sell their produce at markets and prices of their choice, the protesters fear the bills will hurt their interests as they pave the way for the entry of private players into the agricultural market.
Harinder Singh Lakhowal of Bharatiya Kisan Union (Indian Farmers' Union), which is spearheading the protests, told the media, "Our agitations will continue until the government rolls back the anti-farmer reforms."
India's main opposition Congress party, as well as some regional outfits, have lent their support for the farmers.
Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi Vadra said: "They (the farmers) will be forced to become slaves of trillions through contract farming." Her brother Rahul added: "The new agriculture laws will enslave our farmers".
The government, however, slammed the opposition parties for "misleading" the farmers.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi said the reforms were necessary to increase farm incomes and productivity. "Our government has created history. Small and marginal farmers will benefit the most from the reforms," he said.
Experts say the fear of farmers stems out of the fact that most of them currently sell their produce at government-controlled wholesale markets at a minimum support price. "They feel if the MSP goes, market forces will eventually dictate prices," said Prof BK Gupta, an agriculture policy expert.
Indian President is yet to sign the three farm bills into law.
What the 3 farm bills aim at?
1. End the monopoly of government-regulated markets and allow farmers to sell their produce directly to private players
2. Ensure a legal framework for farmers to enter into written pacts with companies and produce for them
3. Allow agri-businesses to stock food articles and remove the government's ability to impose restrictions arbitrarily.
China has allowed foreigners holding certain types of visas and residence permits to return to China starting next week as the threat of coronavirus continues to recede.
The new regulation lifts a months-long blanket suspension covering most foreigners apart from diplomats and those in special circumstances, reports AP.
Returnees must undergo two weeks of quarantine and follow other anti-epidemic measures, the regulation said.
The announcement was made jointly by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the National Immigration Administration on Wednesday.
Beginning Monday, foreign nationals holding valid Chinese visas and residence permits for work, personal matters and family reunions will be permitted to enter China without needing to apply for new visas, according to the regulation.
Those whose permits have expired can reapply.
Some exceptions may still be made, with the foreign ministry communicating to some journalists that the regulation may not apply to them. Journalist visas have recently opened up as a new front in the diplomatic confrontation between Washington and Beijing.
China announced seven new cases of coronavirus on Thursday, all of them imported, marking 39 days since the country has reported a case of domestic transmission.
China has confirmed 85,314 cases of COVID-19 since the virus was first detected in the central Chinese city of Wuhan late last year.
Also read: Coronavirus global caseload now 31,779,533