Malls and temples re-opened in several cities across India on Monday despite the country recording a record daily number of new coronavirus infections, with the pandemic expected to ravage the country for weeks to come. But the number of new cases rose by 9,983 to 256,611, according to government figures announced Monday, putting the country of 1.3 billion on course to overtake Britain and Spain among nations with the highest number of infections.
Big cities — once an attractive destination for workers from poor, rural regions — have been hit by reverse migration as millions of laborers fled to their village homes.
The reported death toll of 7,135 is much lower than reported in other badly-hit countries, but the epidemic is only expected to peak locally in July, according to health experts.
“People are having their temperature tested twice before they get in,” said Ravindra Goel, a trustee of the Jhandewalan temple, one of the oldest in Delhi.”A lot of the manufacturing industry is actually located in the very states where the pandemic’s impact has been great,” Professor Santosh Mehrotra at Jawaharlal Nehru University told AFP last week.
The response was tentative, however, and only a trickle of people returned to some places of worship. Businessman Mohit Budhiraja, wearing a mask and carrying sanitizer, went to his local temple in eastern Delhi for the first time since the lockdown.
“It felt like something was missing when I couldn’t come to the temple for all these weeks,” he said. “I hope things improve, but now I will come every day.”
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