Over 63,000 new infections have taken India’s coronavirus count past 7.2 million, authorities said on Wednesday, as more doctors in the capital New Delhi stopped working for pending salaries.

A total of 63,509 more cases were registered over the past 24 hours, raising the overall tally to 7.24 million (7,239,389).

The figure includes a nationwide death toll of 110,586, which increased by 730 over the past day, and over 6.3 million recoveries.

According to the Health Ministry, 10 states account for 79% of the total active cases in the country: Maharashtra, Karnataka, Kerala, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Assam, Chhattisgarh, and Telangana.

India, which on Sunday became the second country globally with over seven million COVID-19 cases, is presently seeing a comparative decline in daily infections.

The single-day figure has now been less than 70,000 for three straight days, with Tuesday’s count of 55,342 being the lowest in nearly two months.

Looming challenges

Despite the declining trend, officials have warned against any sort of complacency in hygiene and safety measures.

The upcoming festival season – with the Hindu celebrations of Dussehra and Diwali set for end-October and mid-November – poses a serious challenge, according to Dr Vinod Paul, a member of the National Institute for Transforming India Aayog, the government’s main policy think tank.

The arrival of winter and opening of the economy can also possibly increase the spread of the virus, he added.

Another factor that could impact India’s fight against COVID-19 could be the ongoing issue of protests by unpaid doctors and medical staff.

In the capital New Delhi, resident doctors at the Kasturba Hospital stopped working on Wednesday, demanding immediate payment of pending salaries.

“Our resident doctors have started their strike from today against the non-payment of salaries,” Dr Varun Kumar, spokesperson for the hospital’s Resident Doctors’ Association, told Anadolu Agency.

This is the second such protest at a medical facility in the capital, following a strike by hundreds of unpaid doctors and nursing staff last week at the Hindu Rao Hospital.

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