India has recorded 933 new COVID-19 deaths in the past 24 hours as fresh infections surged by another 61,537 cases to reach nearly 2.1 million. The Health Ministry said the number of total deaths stood at 42,518, including more than 20,000 in the past 30 days. An average of about 50,000 new cases has been reported each day since mid-June. The ministry asked state authorities to test grocery shop workers and street vendors, saying that if undetected they can potentially spread infection to a large number of people. India has the third-highest caseload in the world after the US and Brazil.
Children back to school in Gaza after five-month shutdown
Hundreds of thousands of children walked through the streets of the Gaza Strip to return to classes after five months of shutdown – though authorities said they were ready to close schools again if coronavirus cases spike. Gaza, mostly cut off from the world by an Israeli-led blockade, has not recorded any COVID-19 cases in the towns and refugee camps where about two million Palestinians live. Health workers will sanitise Gaza’s 751 schools twice a day, officials said. Children do not have to wear masks but must bring their own lunch and outdoor breaks are banned. About 40km (25 miles) away in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, which has reported a spike in COVID-19 cases, high school classes began this week but elementary schools remain closed. West Bank health officials have reported 94 deaths and 13,600 cases, most of them in the last two months.
New Zealand’s Ardern launches ‘Covid election’ campaign
New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern kicked off her re-election campaign, pledging a 311 million New Zealand dollars ($205m) rescue package for businesses affected by the coronavirus lockdown. She told her supporters in Auckland that the measure was aimed at securing the jobs of 40,000 people employed by companies that had suffered serious financial losses as a result of the pandemic. “When people ask, is this a COVID election, my answer is yes, it is,” Ardern said.
Mexico’s president defends virus record
Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, the president of Mexico, has defended his government’s record fighting the coronavirus and ruled out a change in strategy after the official death toll surged past 50,000. The Latin American nation of 128 million recently overtook the United Kingdom to become the third hardest-hit country in terms of total virus deaths, after Brazil and the United States. But Lopez Obrador said in terms of deaths relative to population size, “we have not been so hard hit”, and on that basis, Mexico ranks fifth in the Americas, behind the US, Brazil, Chile and Peru. “And if we compare ourselves with Europe, there are more deaths in Spain, France and England than in Mexico,” he said.