India records biggest surge in daily coronavirus toll

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India recorded its biggest single-day surge in coronavirus cases on Monday, attributed largely to migrant workers returning home after losing their jobs in India’s population centers.

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The 5,242 new cases and 157 deaths due to COVID-19 in the last 24 hours took the country’s infection tally to more than 96,000, the most in Asia. It now has 3,029 fatalities.

On Sunday, the federal government extended a nationwide lockdown to May 31 but eased some restrictions to restore economic activity and gave states more control in deciding the nature of the lockdown.

Authorities are largely blaming the surge in infections to the return of hundreds of thousands of migrant workers to India’s villages, which have weaker health infrastructure.

India eased its lockdown rules on May 4 and allowed migrant workers to travel back to their homes, a decision that has resulted in millions of people being on the move for the last two weeks. Rail service resumed, with a limited number of trains running.

All passenger flights remain grounded, and metro services, schools, hotels and restaurants are shuttered nationwide.

Most infections reported in India are from its major cities. Mumbai, the financial capital and home to the Bollywood film industry, alone registered almost 20 percent of total cases.

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