NEW DELHI (AP) — India neared half a million coronavirus cases Friday with its biggest 24-hour spike of 17,296 new infections causing a delay in resumption of regular train services by more than a month.
The new cases took India’s total to 490,401. The Health Ministry also reported another 407 deaths in the past 24 hours, taking total fatalities up to 15,301.
The ministry said the recovery rate was continuing to improve at 57.43%. Also, deaths per 100,000 stood at 1.86 against the world average of 6.24 per 100,000, it said.
The actual numbers of infections and deaths from COVID-19, like elsewhere in the world, are thought to be far higher due to a number of reasons including limited testing.
Indian Railways was due to resume regular train services on June 30 but said Thursday that services wouldn’t fully resume until Aug. 12. Trains had been halted when the government declared a nationwide lockdown in late March. Special trains linking main cities have been running since mid-May as part of easing of the lockdown.
Domestic flights have resumed on selected routes, but a government decision on restarting international flights is expected next month.
In other developments in the Asia-Pacific region:
— Australia reported 37 new cases, including 30 in Victoria state, where health authorities are scrambling to contain an outbreak. Authorities said they tested 20,000 people after going door-to-door in Melbourne suburbs Thursday in their attempts to stamp out the virus. In Sydney, a 12-year-old student tested positive, forcing the closure of his school for cleaning. New Zealand, meanwhile, reported one new virus case from a returning traveler. New Zealand has 14 active cases, all of them returning travelers who remain quarantined.
— South Korea reported 39 new cases, mostly from the Seoul metropolitan area where officials have been struggling to stem transmissions. South Korea was considered an anti-virus success story after containing an outbreak during February and March surrounding the southeastern city of Daegu. However, the country has been seeing an uptick in new infections since authorities moved to ease social distancing guidelines and reopen schools starting in May. The update from the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Friday brought national totals to 12,602 cases, including 282 deaths. Twelve of the new cases were linked to international arrivals.
— China reported a further decline in new cases Friday, with 13. Eleven were in Beijing, where mass testing has been done following an outbreak that appears to have been largely brought under control. The other two cases were brought by Chinese travelers from overseas, according to the National Health Council. This month’s outbreak in Beijing has seen 260 people infected, leading authorities to lock down some communities and cancel classes. Since then, 3 million test samples have been taken from 2.43 million people.