India’s coronavirus cases jump, transmission rate increases

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Talla Vijaya Lakshmi, a tailor stitches face masks in her temporary shop on the roadside in Hyderabad on July 9, 2020. (AFP)
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Medical volunteers wearing Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) gear take temperature reading of a woman as they conduct a door-to-door medical screening inside Dharavi slums to fight against the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus, in Mumbai on July 9, 2020. (AFP)
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Medical volunteers wear Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) gear before conducting a door-to-door medical screening inside Dharavi slums to fight against the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus, in Mumbai on July 9, 2020. (AFP)
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Updated 09 July 2020

India’s coronavirus cases jump, transmission rate increases

  • The new cases bring the total in the world’s third worst-affected country to 767,296
  • Health experts say the true extent of the virus’s spread in India is unknown and more testing must be done

NEW DELHI: India reported nearly 25,000 new coronavirus infections Thursday and its transmission rate is increasing for the first time since March.
The new cases bring the total in the world’s third worst-affected country to 767,296. India’s health ministry said the COVID-19 death toll had risen to 21,129.
Research by the Institute of Mathematical Sciences in Chennai shows that India’s virus reproduction rate ticked up in the first week of July to 1.19 after steadily falling from peak transmission of 1.83 in March. The rate needs to be below one for new cases to start falling.
India’s infection numbers have skyrocketed since lockdown restrictions were eased. At the same time, testing has ramped up to more than 200,000 samples a day, compared to just a few hundred in March.
Health experts say the true extent of the virus’s spread in India is unknown and more testing must be done, given its population of nearly 1.4 billion people.


Russia says suspected mercenaries detained by Belarus were going to Latin America

Updated 23 min 8 sec ago

Russia says suspected mercenaries detained by Belarus were going to Latin America

  • Belarusian authorities have said they suspect the men entered their country to plot “acts of terrorism” and destabilize it before an Aug. 9 presidential election
  • Russia has close relations with a number of Latin American countries including Venezuela, and sent dozens of military personnel to Caracas last year

MOSCOW: A Russian diplomat said on Monday a group of more than 30 suspected Russian mercenaries detained in Belarus last week were only passing through Minsk and were on their way to an unnamed Latin American state.
Belarusian authorities have said they suspect the men entered their country to plot “acts of terrorism” and destabilize it before an Aug. 9 presidential election.
Russian officials have dismissed the accusation and described the men as employees of a private security firm. The Russian state says it does not use mercenaries.
The standoff could further strain relations between Minsk and its traditional ally Russia, which soured after the neighbors failed to agree on an oil supply contract for this year.
“Their final destination was one of the states in the Latin American region,” the diplomat, Kirill Pletnyev, was quoted as saying on Monday by the Russian RIA news agency.
Belarus granted Pletnyev consular access to the detained men, RIA added. His quotes did not name the Latin American country or give any more details on the identity of the men.
Russia has close relations with a number of Latin American countries including Venezuela, and sent dozens of military personnel to Caracas last year, describing them as military specialists.
On Friday, Alexander Agafonov, the head of the Belarusian investigative group that is handling the case, said the arrested men — some of whom were wearing army fatigues — had given “contradictory accounts” about their plans.
He was quoted as saying that 11 of the arrested men had told authorities they planned to fly on to Venezuela, 15 to Turkey, two to Cuba and one to Syria. Another said he did not know his destination, while three refused to make a statement.
Belarus leader Alexander Lukashenko, who has said he wants a full explanation from Russia, faces his biggest electoral test in years on Aug. 9 as public anger swells over his handling of COVID-19, the economy and human rights.