Asia Today: India cases approach 7 million amid slower pace

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A health worker takes a nasal swab sample to test for COVID-19 in Kohima, capital of the northeastern Indian state of Nagaland, Saturday, Oct. 10, 2020. Indias total coronavirus positive cases near 7 million with another 73,272 infections reported in the past 24 hours. The Health Ministry on Saturday put the total positive caseload at 6.97 million, second to 7.66 million infections registered in the worst-hit United States. (AP Photo/Yirmiyan Arthur)

NEW DELHI – India’s confirmed coronavirus cases are nearing 7 million with another 73,272 reported in the past 24 hours.

The Health Ministry on Saturday also reported 926 additional deaths, taking total fatalities to 107,416. The deaths remained below 1,000 for the seventh straight day.

India is seeing a slower pace of coronavirus spread since mid-September, when the daily infections touched a record of 97,894 cases. It’s averaging more than 70,000 cases daily so far this month, while the recovery rate has exceeded 85%.

But health experts have warned that congregations during major festivals later this month and in November have the potential for the virus to spread.

“We have to work aggressively to make sure that during winter months and during the festive season coronavirus cases don’t rise dramatically,” said Dr. Randeep Guleria, a government health expert.

Experts say India’s fragile health system has been bolstered in recent months but could still be overwhelmed by an exponential rise in cases.

Consumer activity is gradually rebounding and millions of factory workers who had fled cities when India imposed a 2-month-long rigorous lockdown on March 25 are returning.

In other developments in the Asia-Pacific region: