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India's Tamil Nadu announces lockdown as national COVID fatalities at record high


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© Reuters. Policemen stand in front of Jama Masjid or Grand Mosque on Jumat-ul-Vida or the last Friday of the holy fasting month of Ramadan, during a lockdown to limit the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in the old quarters of Delhi, India, May 7, 2021

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NEW DELHI (Reuters) -India’s southern state of Tamil Nadu announced new lockdown measures on Saturday as officials reported a nationwide record number of single-day COVID-19 deaths as cases continue to surge.

India’s health ministry reported 4,187 fatalities over the past 24 hours, taking the overall death toll to just under 240,000. Cases rose by 401,078, increasing the total since the start of the pandemic to 21.9 million.

Officials in Tamil Nadu said the state-wide lockdown would begin on Monday and last until May 24. Shops and other businesses will be allowed to open on Saturday and Sunday to give residents time to prepare for the sweeping shutdown.

Neighbouring Karnataka, home to India’s tech capital Bengaluru, announced late on Friday it was extending movement restrictions, also until May 24.

The second wave of the coronavirus pandemic in India has brought the country’s healthcare system to the brink of collapse, with a scarcity of hospital beds and oxygen.

Morgues and crematoriums have struggled to handle the number of dead and makeshift funeral pyres burn in parks and car parks.

Medical experts say the real numbers of COVID-19 cases and fatalities are likely to be far higher than official tallies.

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