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India on Thursday reported 86,821 new coronaviruses cases and another 1,181 fatalities, making September its worst month of the pandemic.

The Health Ministry’s update for the past 24 hours raised India’s total to more than 6.3 million people infected and 98,678 dead from COVID-19. India added 41 percent of its confirmed cases and 34 percent of fatalities in September alone.

India is expected to become the pandemic’s worst-hit country within weeks, surpassing the United States, where more than 7.2 million people have been infected.

The government announced further easing of restrictions to start October 15. Cinemas, theaters and multiplexes can open with up to 50 percent of seating capacity, and swimming pools can also be used by athletes in training.

The government also said India’s 28 states can decide on reopening of schools and coaching institutions gradually after October 15. However, the students will have the option of attending online classes.

International commercial flights will remain suspended until October 31. However, evacuation flights will continue to and from the United States, Britain, Australia, Canada, France, Japan and several other countries.

India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi imposed the world’s stringent lockdown across the country late March, but started easing restrictions after two months to revive the severely-hit economy that contracted an unprecedented 24% in the April-June quarter. The lockdown cost more than 10 million impoverished migrant workers their jobs in the cities.

Also Read: India extends Int’l flight ban till Oct 31

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