With 700,000 virus cases, India is 3rd worst-hit in world Jul 07, 2020 0 436 12345 AFPNew DelhiIndia’s densely populated cities ordered new restrictions as the confirmed number of coronavirus cases neared 700,000, passing Russia with the third-highest number of infections.More than 697,400 cases have now been recorded, a rise of 24,000 in 24 hours, the health ministry said, while Russia has just over 681,000. The surge has forced some cities to tighten their anti-virus measures -- including the eastern metropolis of Kolkata, which halted flights from other major Indian cities on Monday. It has set up dozens of containment zones in recent days.A new lockdown was imposed on the capital of southern Kerala state, Thiruvananthapuram, with public transport shut and only pharmacies allowed to open.The clampdown came after hundreds of new cases were reported across the state, which had been praised for its action to curtail the pandemic. It passed a law on Sunday making face masks and social distancing compulsory for the next 12 months.While the United States and Brazil have the highest number of cases worldwide, India’s tally is expected to keep rising for several more weeks. Experts predict there will be one million cases by the end of July.The first patients were admitted to a sprawling temporary hospital in Delhi on Sunday, and doctors and nurses are being drafted in to help with an expected deluge of cases.The medical team can cope “even if it reaches its peak capacity,” said Vivek Kumar Pandey, a spokesman for the military force running the 10,000-bed complex.India has registered nearly 20,000 deaths from the virus, a much lower number than many other badly hit countries.Its major cities have been worst hit by the pandemic -- New Delhi and Mumbai each have about 100,000 cases, with 3,000 dead in the capital and nearly 5,000 in Mumbai.Though international flights remain suspended, the government has sought to ease a nationwide lockdown in a bid to counter the hit taken by the economy since it started in March. A number of national monuments opened Monday, including the Red Fort and Humayun’s Tomb in Delhi.But the four century old Taj Mahal, one of the world’s biggest tourist attractions, remained closed because of infections in the region.Companies that have reopened in recent weeks are facing pressure to take action over rising cases among workers.Unions have demanded that the Bajaj motorbike company halt production at a giant plant in Maharashtra state, after more than 250 workers there tested positive for the coronavirus. Pages 12 RELATED ARTICLES Duterte’s anti-terrorism law challenged in Philippines’ top court Jul 07, 2020 0 322 World must support Hong Kong, says activist Wong at court hearing Jul 07, 2020 0 33 Over one million told to evacuate in Japan after heavy rain kills 44 Jul 07, 2020 0 31 Philippines raises alarm over spike after COVID-19 lockdown easing DPA Manila Philippine authorities on Monday expressed alarm over a spike in the number of coronavirus infections in the country and urged the public to strictly follow preventive protocols. “We are alarmed because the .. Nepal makes wearing a face mask mandatory in public places DPA Kathmandu Nepal’s Ministry of Home Affairs (MoHA) made wearing face masks in public places mandatory on Monday, with provisions for legal action against those defying the public health and safety rules. Umakanta .. Hundreds of drones light up Seoul sky with virus messages Seoul Hundreds of drones lit up the night sky in Seoul for a spectacular showcase of motivational and awareness messages as the world battles the coronavirus pandemic. Three hundred unmanned aerial vehicles were .. India, China agree to ‘complete disengagement’ from deadly border flashpoint AFP New Delhi Chinese troops were seen removing structures from a Himalayan valley where they fought a deadly battle with Indian soldiers last month, Indian army sources said Monday, after high-level talks between the .. Border closure as Melbourne sees sharp spike in virus cases DPA Canberra The internal border between Australia’s two most populous states, Victoria and New South Wales (NSW), will close after Covid-19 cases have spiked in Victorian capital city Melbourne, state Premiers .. China says US has ‘ulterior motives’ in South China Sea Beijing China said the United States had “ulterior motives” for dispatching two aircraft carriers to the South China Sea, in the latest show of military might between the two countries. Chinese Foreign Ministry ..