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Asia Today: India adds another 89K cases, to reopen schools

NEW DELHI (AP) — India added another 89,706 coronavirus cases to the second-highest tally in the world, and the government said schools would reopen later this month for senior students after being closed for more than five months.

India’s famed white marble Taj Mahal in the northern city of Agra will also reopen Sept. 21 with access restricted to 5,000 tourists a day to prevent overcrowding. According to the Health Ministry, India’s total caseload on Wednesday reached 4.37 million. The ministry also reported 1,115 deaths in the past 24 hours, taking total fatalities up to 73,890. India has the second-most cases in the world and the third-most deaths behind the United States and Brazil.

More than 1 million people have tested positive for the coronavirus in India in less than two weeks. Testing has been ramped up to more than 1 million a day, with cumulative testing exceeding 50 million.

In the Indian capital, authorities said COVID-19 testing centers can take walk-ins without a doctor’s prescription. This follows a rise in the daily tally of coronavirus cases to 2,411 from less than 1,000 last month.

The Health Ministry on Tuesday announced a partial reopening of schools from Sept. 21 for students of 9-12th grades for taking teachers’ guidance. Online learning will still be permitted. Schools were shut after India imposed a strict nationwide lockdown on March 25. The government started easing it in May to revive economic activity.

In other developments in the Asia-Pacific region: — Jakarta's governor announced an emergency decision on Wednesday to reimpose large-scale social restrictions in the capital city to control a rapid expansion in coronavirus cases. “We will pull the emergency brake when we are forced to re-implement large-scale restrictions like we did at the beginning of the pandemic," Gov. Anies Baswedan said. “The death rate, the use of isolation beds and use of special ICUs for COVID-19 show that the outbreak in Jakarta is an emergency situation.” He said the city government will order the closure starting Monday of workplaces and entertainment centers. Only religious places in residential areas will be allowed to continue operating, he said. “Office activities will be conducted at home again. But there are 11 essential sectors that will still be able to operate.” Nationally, the Indonesian government reported 3,307 new cases on Wednesday, bringing the country's total to 203,342, including 8,336 deaths. The National Task Force for COVID-19 Mitigation said 49,397 cases and 1,334 deaths were in Jakarta.

— The number of new coronavirus infections in South Korea has stayed below 200 for the seventh straight day. The Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Wednesday the 156 cases added in the past 24 hours took the country’s tally to 21,588 with 344 deaths. The agency said 100 of the new cases were locally transmitted patients in the Seoul area, which has been at the center of a viral resurgence since early August. Authorities in the Seoul area have ordered the shutdown of churches, night establishments and after-school academics and curbed late restaurant services to try to curb new infections.

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