India has reported its highest number of single day coronavirus deaths, with the figure coming after the easing of a two-month lockdown.
Meanwhile, Iran’s total official death toll from COVID-19 has topped 20,000, although the real figure is thought to be much higher.
This story will be updated throughout Thursday.
Thursday’s key moments:
India records highest single-day total deaths so far
India reported 1,092 new fatalities from COVID-19 on Wednesday, its highest single-day total so far during the pandemic.
India has the fourth-most deaths in the world and the third-most cases, with over 2.7 million — including more than 64,000 new infections reported in the past 24 hours.
The actual numbers, like elsewhere in the world, are thought to be far higher due to limited testing.
Four of India’s 28 states now account for 63 per cent of total fatalities and 54.6 per cent of the caseload.
The western state of Maharashtra and the southern states of Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka are the country’s worst-hit regions.
India is third behind Brazil and the United States in terms of total number of cases and the outbreak has been spreading steadily from urban areas to smaller towns, where healthcare is limited.
India’s coronavirus death toll overtook Britain to become the fourth highest in the world on Saturday.
India’s two-month lockdown imposed nationwide in late March kept infections low but has been eased and is now largely only being enforced in high-risk areas.
The new cases began to rise sharply after India reopened shops and manufacturing and allowed hundreds of thousands of migrant workers to return to their homes from coronavirus-hit regions.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Saturday three vaccines were in different phases of testing and mass production would begin as soon as scientists gave the green light.
Iran’s confirmed death toll tops 20,000
Iran has surpassed 20,000 confirmed deaths from the coronavirus, the highest death toll for any Middle East country so far in the pandemic.
The Islamic Republic’s health department made the announcement on Wednesday as it went ahead with university entrance exams for over 1 million students.
The country is also preparing for mass Shiite commemorations later this month.
Iran suffered the region’s first major outbreak, with top politicians, health officials and religious leaders in its Shiite theocracy stricken with the virus.
It has since struggled to contain the spread of the virus across the nation of 80 million people, with a second wave surging in June.
Still, international experts remain suspicious of Iran’s case counts.
Even researchers in the Iranian parliament in April suggested the death toll is likely nearly double the officially reported figures, due to undercounting and because not everyone with breathing problems has been tested for the virus.
New Zealand court rules beginning of nationwide lockdown illegal
A New Zealand court has found the first nine days of a seven-week hard lockdown put in place by the Government earlier this year was justified, but unlawful.
The High Court in Wellington concluded the Government did have the authority to order a full lockdown, but did not use the right legal mechanisms when stage 4 restrictions were brought in, in late March.
An order imposing stay-at-home restrictions was not passed until April 3.
“In the end, the measures taken by the Government worked to eliminate COVID-19, save lives and minimise damage to our economy,” Attorney General David Parker said after the ruling.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said on Wednesday she would increase the number of defence personnel at quarantine facilities and borders to beat any spread of the virus, as five new cases in the community were reported.
Polish hospital warns beds running out
The director of a major Polish hospital has warned that his facility is at risk of running out of beds for coronavirus patients.
The country of 38 million has so far registered some 58,000 cases and 1,900 deaths, numbers which are far lower than many countries in western Europe.
However, infections have been rising for weeks, with around 700 new cases per day — up from 200 to 300 earlier in the summer.
Marcin Jedrychowski, director of the University Hospital in Krakow, the largest and most modern facility in Poland, told the news portal Onet that his hospital had already been forced to select patients and admit only the most severe cases.
“With such an upward trend that has continued for many days, we will soon run out of places,” Mr Jedrychowski said.
He said he was also concerned about an increase in the rate of infections once schools reopen on September 1.