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India has recorded, on average, over 82,000 cases per day in the last week - the highest in that period was 88,600 recorded on September 27 - and a total of 5.75 lakh cases in that time. In the seven days leading up to Thursday, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the US saw fewer than three lakh cases. India, which has climbed steadily up the list of worst-affected countries in recent weeks, overtaking Brazil to reach second place on September 2, is now fewer than 10 lakh cases from being the worst hit country by the Covid pandemic.
India is also inching closer to recording one lakh deaths as a result of the pandemic that began in China's Wuhan in December last year. As of Friday, 99,773 deaths have been reported, with 1,095 in the past 24 hours. The fatality rate is 1.56 per cent, which is among the lowest in the world. However, medical experts have questioned these figures and suggested the actual death count is likely higher. India reported its first Covid-related death in early March - a 76-year-old man from Karnataka.
India does, however, have over 50 lakh Covid recoveries - the most of any country. The United States is second with 42.99 lakh. The national recovery rate is now at 83.7 per cent, the government said this morning. Nearly 80,000 people were discharged from hospitals and medical facilities across the country in the past 24 hours.
Within India, Maharashtra remains the worst-affected state with more than 14 lakh confirmed cases so far; the state saw nearly 16,500 new infections in the past 24 hours. Maharashtra is also the state with the most number of Covid-related deaths - over 37,000. Amid the rising cases the Uddhav Thackeray government on Wednesday extended the Covid lockdown till the end of October but also said that hotels, restaurants and bars would be allowed to partially reopen from Monday.
Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu are the next worst-affected, reporting over 22,500 new cases between them in the past 24 hours. Over 10,000 of those were from Karnataka, where the active caseload has increased by nearly 3,000. Andhra Pradesh saw a decline in its active load by 587 and Tamil Nadu an increase of 106.
Over the past 24 hours Maharashtra, Karnataka, Uttar Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Bengal reported the most deaths, with 394, 130, 80, 66 and 59, respectively. Tamil Nadu has reported a total of 9,586 deaths so far (second only to Maharashtra) and Karnataka is third on the list of states with most deaths with 8,994 recorded so far. Andhra and UP have over 5,800 each.
Coronavirus super-spreaders were behind the explosion of COVID-19 cases in India, researchers said Wednesday in a study published by the journal Science. A group of patients that included about 8 per cent of India's confirmed cases later led to almost two-thirds of its total infections, the study showed. The research, based on tracing more than three million contacts in Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu through August 1, is the first major study of transmission in a developing country.
On Wednesday the central government released guidelines for "Unlock 5", the fifth phase of easing of restrictions across the country. Under these rules, schools and colleges, shut since March, can re-open from October 15; the final call, however, will be left to state governments. Cinema halls, multiplexes, and exhibition halls have been allowed to function at 50 per cent capacity and special guidelines for these will be released shortly, the government said. International air travel remains barred for now.
United States President Donald Trump has tested positive for the COVID-19 virus. In a tweet posted early this morning, Mr Trump said he and his wife, First Lady Melania Trump had both contracted the virus. The two went into quarantine late Thursday after Hope Hicks, a top aide, tested positive. Ms Hicks travelled with Mr Trump on Air Force One earlier this week as he flew to Cleveland for a presidential debate with Joe Biden.
Early clinical trials of a second Russian coronavirus vaccine have proved successful, its developer said Thursday after Russia boasted of approving the world's first vaccine. Russia's Vektor -- a top-secret state virology research centre in Siberia -- said that early-stage trials were successful for its own experimental vaccine, named EpiVacCorona.
With input from AFP