India eases curbs further as COVID-19 cases tumble
Published: Jan 28, 2021 07:03 PM

Photo: AFP

India has further eased coronavirus restrictions, bucking the trend in many other countries as the huge Asian nation's infection and death numbers fall sharply.

Government figures on Thursday showed that, in the previous 24 hours, 123 people died from the virus in India, with 11,666 new infections.

By comparison, the US has posted daily death counts of more than 4,000 in recent weeks, while Britain and Brazil have seen daily totals of well over 1,000.

In September, at the peak of the outbreak in India, the country of 1.3 billion people was recording almost 100,000 new cases and more than 1,000 deaths per day.

Addressing the gradual reopening, Home Secretary Ajay Kumar Bhalla said, "The number of active cases in the country has been declining steadily over the past four months."

But he noted the "need for maintaining caution and strict surveillance."

India imposed one of the world's toughest lockdowns since March 2020. But with the economy one of the worst hit worldwide, India has gradually relaxed rules, allowing most economic activity and even famously lavish weddings to resume.

Recent months have seen mass religious festivals, and the new guidelines announced Wednesday included opening swimming pools and allowing more than 50 percent capacity in cinemas.

Experts warned though that India could see another wave of infections and that it could be hit by new variants of the virus, as has happened in Brazil, Britain and South Africa.