India has surpassed Italy in the list of nation's worth-hit by coronavirus after recording its biggest single-day surge of infections since the pandemic began.
The Health Ministry reported 9,887 new cases over the past 24 hours, taking the total number of infections to 236,657.
The world’s second most populous nation is now in sixth place globally when it comes to coronavirus cases.
It comes just two days before the easing of lockdown measures and the reopening of malls, restaurants and places of worship.
Member of the Indian National Congress Rahul Gandhi had criticised the end of lockdown, calling it a “fail” on social media.
Alongside the criticism of his government, he posted graphs showing just how ineffective India’s lockdown has been, using data compiled by Oxford University.
The data shows various countries and how their confirmed cases began falling once lockdown was enacted.
India, however, maintained a strong upward trend and is easing lockdown measures anyway.
“This is what a failed lockdown looks like,” he tweeted.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government, anxious to jump-start an economy crippled by the pandemic and put millions of people back to work, is easing its lockdown of the 1.3 billion population imposed in March.
Some experts are worried it is too soon. Giridhar R Babu, an epidemiologist at the Public Health Foundation of India, in particular questioned the re-opening of religious places in a series of tweets.
“We are opening up religious places too soon, too fast. Gods can wait,” he wrote.
“We can survive and sustain the gains without ... opening up religious places for sometime,” he said.
Concerts, sporting events and political rallies are still banned.
People visiting places of worship will be asked to wash their hands and feet, and there will be no distribution of food offerings, sprinkling of holy water or touching of idols and holy books.
The World Health Organization said late on Friday that India’s lockdown had helped it dampen down transmission of the virus, but there was a risk the cases could rise again.
“As India and other large countries open up and people begin to move there is always a risk of the disease bouncing back up,” Dr Mike Ryan, head of WHO’s emergencies program, told a news conference in Geneva.
At least 294 deaths linked with COVID-19 were registered since Friday, bringing the total to 6,642 in the country.
The figures showed that India had climbed to the sixth spot in the list of nations worst hit by the pandemic, overtaking Italy's 234,531 total cases by Friday evening, local time, according to a tally kept by Johns Hopkins University.
with AAP and Reuters
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