SEOUL – The number of coronavirus cases in India continued to rapidly increase Wednesday, with officials reporting nearly 10,000 new cases over the past 24 hours.
The spike has come as the government moves forward with reopening restaurants, shopping malls and religious places in most of its states after a more than 2-month-old lockdown.
The government has already partially restored train services and domestic flights and allowed shops and manufacturing to reopen. Subways, hotels and schools and colleges, however, remain shuttered nationwide.
The Health Ministry on Wednesday reported an 24-hour increase of 9,985 cases and 274 deaths. India has recorded 276,583 positive cases, the fifth highest in the world, and 7,745 deaths.
The actual numbers, like elsewhere in the world, are thought to be fair higher due to a number of reasons such as limited testing.
More than 4.9 million tests have been conducted in the country of 1.3 billion people, with daily testing crossing 140,000 people.
Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu and New Delhi are the worst-hit states with 90,787, 34,914 and 31,309 positive cases respectively.
In other developments in the Asia-Pacific region:
— RELATIVES STEAL BODIES IN INDONESIA: Indonesian authorities said Wednesday they have arrested at least 33 people suspected of snatching the bodies of coronavirus victims from several hospitals to bury them according to Islamic and social customs. Charges for 10 of the people detained in South Sulawesi province in the past week will be forwarded to prosecutors, provincial police spokesman Ibrahim Tompo said. If found guilty, they face up to seven years in jail and a $7,000 fine for violating the health quarantine law and resisting officials, he said. Videos shared widely in the world’s most populous Muslim nation show dozens of relatives and friends forcibly carrying off the bodies of coronavirus victims from several hospitals, despite the strict health protocols in place. “What they have done could harm the wider community,” Tompo said. He said some people believe the burial health protocols are unacceptable because of the Islamic faith and cultural traditions. Muslims usually bury their dead without a casket, and before burial the body is washed with soap and scented water and then wrapped in a seamless cloth without plastic. Indonesia announced its highest single-day increase in confirmed coronavirus cases on Wednesday with 1,241 new patients, bringing its total to 34,316 including 1,923 deaths.
— KOREA TO REQUIRE QR CODE: South Korea has reported 50 new cases of COVID-19 as officials began requiring nightclubs, karaoke rooms and gyms to register their customers with smartphone QR codes so they could be easily located when needed. Since late May, the country has been reporting around 30 to 50 new cases per day, a resurgence that has threatened to erase some of the hard-won gains against the virus. The nationwide requirement of QR codes at “high-risk” venues come after a weeklong trial run in the cities of Seoul, Incheon and Daejeon. The government is also encouraging churches, libraries, hospitals and movie theaters to voluntarily adopt the technology. Critics have raised privacy concerns.
— MALAYSIA LIFTS LOCKDOWN: Malaysia reopened nearly all economic and social activities Wednesday after nearly three months of lockdown successfully brought down virus infections. Malaysians can now travel for domestic holidays, get their hair cut and visit street markets, while schools and religious activities will gradually resume. The government says the “recovery” phase will last through August, with certain prohibitions still in place. Night clubs, pubs, karaoke, theme parks and reflexology centers will stay shut. Contact sports or those with spectators and activities with big groups are still banned. Malaysia has had 8,336 infections and 117 deaths. Daily cases have dropped to only seven daily since Monday, the lowest since the lockdown started March 18.
— CHINA REPORTS 3 CASES: China says its three latest cases of coronavirus infection were brought from outside the country. No new deaths were reported Wednesday and just 55 people remain in treatment for COVID-19, while another 157 were being monitored in isolation for showing signs of having the virus or having tested positive for it without showing symptoms. China has reported a total of 4,634 deaths among 83,046 cases of COVID-19 since the virus was first detected in the central Chinese city of Wuhan late last year.
— HOUSES OF WORSHIP REOPEN IN SRI LANKA: Sri Lankan health officials say places of worship that have remained closed for the past three months can reopen starting Friday subject to social distancing guidelines. Director General of Health Services Anil Jasinghe said Wednesday that up to 50 people can congregate in any place of worship if they keep their distance from others. Places of worship that cannot accommodate 50 people can admit half their normal capacity, he said. Sri Lanka has reported no coronavirus patients outside known clusters for the past month. It has confirmed 1,859 cases with 11 deaths.