India holds the dubious crown of the world’s fastest-growing infection rate, with daily cases skyrocketing by more than 75,000 for five consecutive days.
But as numbers soar, India’s government is moving to unwind lockdown measures, starting with resuming metro rail services and allowing gatherings of 100 people.
The World Health Organisation has warned that countries opening up too quickly amid the coronavirus pandemic was a “recipe for disaster”.
At 3.62 million cases, India sits third behind the USA (6 million) and Brazil (3.8 million) on the global infection tally but appears on track to overtake Brazil.
The country with a population of 1.3 billion has been posting the highest single-day caseload in the world since August 7, breaking the previous record set by the USA on July 16 (77,299).
It took almost six months for India to record 1 million infections but cases have since been rising exponentially, reaching 2 million in just three weeks and hitting 3 million in only 16 days.
However the country’s death rate is much lower than others on the top of the world’s coronavirus tally, with 64,469 deaths compared to 183,312 in the USA and 120, 8282 in Brazil, according to John Hopkins University numbers.
Global infections have surpassed 25.3 million, with several nations recently recording their highest daily increases as they emerge out of lockdown.
But in Australia, cases appear to be trending down in Victoria, giving the nation’s chief health officer reason to feel positive.
Victoria on Monday recorded its lowest daily increase since early July, with 73 new infections.
Victoria also recorded another 41 deaths, but only eight occurred in the past 24 hours. The remaining 33 were added to the tally after being reported to the state’s health department.
The national coronavirus death toll now stands at 652.
There were 829 new cases of the coronavirus in Australia over the past seven days compared to 1500 the week before, Acting Chief Medical Officer Paul Kelly said.
The new cases are almost exclusively in Melbourne, with a few in rural Victoria and a small number in Queensland and Sydney.
“For all of those reasons I’m positive,” Professor Kelly said.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison continues to pressure state governments to open their borders, saying he doesn’t want to see the current arrangements in place by Christmas.
Emergency law extension
Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews may have garnered enough support to pass a revised six-month extension to state of emergency powers.
With the state of emergency provisions to expire on September 13, the Andrews government has been in talks to win over wary crossbenchers.
The premier had wanted 12 months but he will likely have to compromise ahead of parliament voting on the amendment when it returns on Tuesday.
Key crossbencher Fiona Patten has indicated she could get behind a sixth-month extension, but only if the state of emergency is justified to the minor parties and independents once a month.
Victoria’s police, doctors, nurses and paramedics unions have all publicly called for the powers to be extended.
Meanwhile, lockdown-weary Victorians will soon be given a glimpse of the light at the end of the tunnel, with the state government’s “reopening roadmap” to be unveiled on Sunday.
But Mr Andrews has refused to say if restrictions will end on September 13.
Aged care visits
Sydneysiders may be allowed to visit nursing homes for Father’s Day if the coronavirus cluster in the CBD remains under control, NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian says.
NSW recorded 10 new cases of COVID-19 on the last day of winter, with six of those travellers in hotel quarantine and four linked to the CBD cluster.
The cluster associated with the City Tattersalls gym has now reached 34 cases.
Ms Berejiklian said if the cluster stays contained she may reconsider the ban on visits to Sydney and Central Coast nursing homes in time for Sunday.
“We will update the aged care advice later in the week ahead of Father’s Day and may be able to ease restrictions on aged care,” she told reporters on Monday.
“We are not out of the woods in relation to that cluster, but it’s pleasing to know our fears about the CBD cluster have not yet materialised, in that it’s being contained.”
A Sydney bus route, gym and pub are the latest to be subject to urgent public health warnings related to the CBD cluster.
Commuters who boarded the same Sydney bus as two confirmed COVID-19 cases have been told to immediately self-isolate. Passengers on the X39 bus that left the CBD at 6.08pm on August 20 and arrived in Randwick at 6.40pm are considered close contacts.
There were 14 people on the bus, with 13 of those traced.