India reopens big cities as Covid numbers plunge

New Delhi: After weeks-long lockdowns, major Indian cities have reopened for business, with long queues for buses in the financial hub of Mumbai while traffic returned to the roads of New Delhi after a devastating second wave of coronavirus that killed thousands.

The graph of new infections has been going down steadily. India reported 67,208 new COVID-19 cases over the past 24 hours Thursday, data from the health ministry showed. The country’s total case load now stands at 29.70 million, while total fatalities are at 381,903, the data showed.

“We have to save ourselves from infection but also bring the economy back on track,” Delhi’s Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said on Twitter.

He ordered half the capital’s shops to open on odd- and even-numbered days of the month respectively, in a bid to limit crowds, but allowed offices and the Delhi metro rail network to run at 50 percent of capacity.

But some curbs were retained, such as the ban on dining in restaurants and the use of theatres and gyms in a city still slowly recovering from a surge in the months of April and May that overwhelmed hospitals. These ran short of beds and medical oxygen, and people died in hospital parking lots and homes, while crematoriums and morgues struggled to cope with an incessant flow of corpses.

Maharashtra allowed businesses to run until late afternoon, staffed with half their employees, and opened gyms, salons and spas, though cinemas and malls are to stay shut. India’s richest state eased restrictions based on infection rates and hospital bed occupancy.

Image courtesy of (Photo courtesy AP)

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