Asia Today: India's confirmed virus cases near 8 million

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AFTAB ALAM

An election officer checks the temperature of a voter before allowing voters to pass at a polling station, during the first phase of state elections at Paliganj, in the eastern Indian state of Bihar, Wednesday, Oct. 28, 2020. With an overall declining coronavirus positive trend, Indian authorities decided to hold the first state legislature election since the outbreak of COVID-19. People began voting Wednesday in the countrys third largest state Bihar with of a population of about 122 million people. (AP Photo/Aftab Alam Siddiqui)

NEW DELHI – India’s tally of confirmed coronavirus cases is moving closer to 8 million, with 43,893 new cases reported in the latest 24-hour period.

The total reported Wednesday includes the highest single-day number of cases for New Delhi, the Indian capital — 4,853.

The Health Ministry also reported 508 fatalities from COVID-19 across India in the past 24 hours, raising the total to 120,010.

India’s caseload is second in the world behind the United States, which has over 8.7 million confirmed cases.

In September, India hit a peak of nearly 100,000 reported cases in a single day, but since then daily infections have fallen by more than half and deaths by about a third.

Voting began Wednesday in India’s third-largest state of Bihar, the first major election in the country since the pandemic. Bihar, with a population of 122 million people, has reported more than 200,000 cases and there are concerns over a surge in infections during the elections.

India’s Election Commission has taken a series of measures to halt the spread of the virus. It has increased the number of polling stations, extended the voting time by one hour at most places, and sanitization of electronic voting machines has been made mandatory. Authorities are also conducting temperature checks at entry points and voters are provided with hand sanitizers, soap and water.

In other developments in the Asia-Pacific region: