The Latest: India’s daily surges making it world’s epicenter

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India registered 78,357 new coronavirus cases in the past 24 hours, raising its total over 3.7 million as the government eases pandemic restrictions nationwide to help the battered economy.

India, a nation of 1.4 billion people, is fast becoming the world’s coronavirus epicenter. It has been reporting the highest daily increases in new cases for more than three weeks, and at its current rate is likely to soon pass Brazil and ultimately the United States in total reported cases.

The Health Ministry on Wednesday also reported 1,045 deaths in the past 24 hours, taking total fatalities up to 66,333. It now has the third-most deaths after recently passing Mexico’s toll, according to a Johns Hopkins University tally.

Infections have been spreading fast from people in India’s big cities to smaller towns and rural areas.

Its testing capacity of nearly 100,000 per day has been increasing but experts say it is not enough.

On Wednesday, the Indian Council of Medical Research, India’s top medical research body, said the country had conducted nearly 44 million tests for the virus since the pandemic began.

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HERE’S WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE VIRUS OUTBREAK

— Trump administration speeding up environmental reviews of energy and infrastructure projects during pandemic, AP finds

— U.S. government cancelling some orders for ventilators, after rushing to sign emergency contracts in spring

— The Sun Belt’s coronavirussummer is easing after 35,000 deaths, but next question is impact of school and other events returning

— Antibodiesagainst virus last longer than earlier reports suggested, according to a scientific finding raising vaccine hopes

— US sending rapid coronavirus teststo assisted living facilities, moving to fill a testing gap for older adults

— Follow AP’s pandemic coverage at http://apnews.com/VirusOutbreak and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak

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HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING:

SEOUL, South Korea — South Korea has recorded 267 additional cases of the coronavirus, marking a triple-digit daily jump for the 20th straight day that has forced local authorities to impose tough social distancing rules.

The Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Wednesday the additional figures took the country’s tally to 20,449 that includes 326 deaths.

The agency says 253 of the new cases were locally infected patients, 187 of them in the densely populated Seoul metropolitan area.

South Korea has seen a spike in infections since early last month, many associated with churches, restaurants, schools and a public rally. Authorities have recently restricted dining at restaurants and ordered the shutdowns of churches, fitness centers and night establishments in the Seoul area as it struggles to track many of the new infections.

The caseload has trended slightly downward in recent days, but health officials have urged the public to keep following strengthened social distancing guidelines.

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MELBOURNE, Australia — Australia’s hot spot Victoria state on Wednesday extended its state of emergency for another six months as its weekly average of new COVID-10 infections dipped to 95.

The Victorian Parliament’s upper chamber passed legislation by a 20-19 vote to extend the state of emergency, which enhances the government’s powers to impose pandemic restrictions.

The government had wanted a 12-month extension.

The state health department reported 90 new infections and six deaths in the latest 24-hour period. There were only 70 new infections on Tuesday.

But the latest seven-day average has dropped into double-digits for the first time in weeks. The previous week’s average was 175 infections a day.



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