As concerns grew over the looming Hindu festival season, India's confirmed number of coronavirus cases surpassed 8 million. It is only the second country to confirm more than 8 million cases worldwide, after the US, which has more than 8.8 million cases.
Another 49,881 infections and 517 fatalities were reported by the Indian health ministry on Thursday, raising the total death toll to 120,527.
It took India to record its first million cases until mid-July. Two months later, 5 million people were positively tested. But since 16 September, when daily infections hit a record 97,894, with daily deaths at a high of 1,275, the nation has seen a slower spread.
Despite rising infections, social distancing was largely abandoned this week in the eastern state of Bihar in the wake of campaigns to form a government in the world's largest election since the coronavirus pandemic began. In the state of 122 million people, Wednesday saw the first round of voting.
Despite the ongoing march of the virus across the country, life elsewhere in India has returned to pre-virus norms with the reopening of shops, businesses, subway trains, and cinemas. According to the Times of India, the rolling five-day average of infections stands at over 45,000.
Data from the Robert Koch Institute for Infectious Diseases showed on Thursday that the number of confirmed cases of coronavirus in Germany increased by 16,774 to 481,013. The death toll reported increased by 89 to 10,272, the tally showed.
The figure in the new case is the highest ever recorded in Germany. The previous record was 14,964, reported the day before.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel announced on Wednesday that, under new measures agreed between Merkel and the heads of regional governments, bars, restaurants, and theatres would be shut down from 2-30 November. Schools will remain open, and stores will be permitted to operate with strict access limitations.
Olaf Scholz, her finance minister, posted on Twitter: "November is going to be a month of reality." In order to break the second wave, the increasing number of infections is forcing us to take tough countermeasures.
In response to the news that Europe's biggest economies-France also introduced a national lockdown-were imposing national restrictions almost as severe as those that drove the global economy into its deepest recession in generations this year, world stock markets went into a dive.
In the meantime, on Wednesday, Iran reported record daily deaths for the second day in a row, declaring it was waging a "full-scale war" with coronavirus. In 24 hours, the Middle East's worst-hit country recorded 415 deaths.
"In recent weeks, this is the result of an unprecedented increase in infections and hospitalizations", Sima Sadat Lari, spokeswoman for the health ministry, said in a televised address, visibly moved as she gave the figures. "Now we are in a full-scale coronavirus war," she said.
The most recent fatalities have raised the total number of virus fatalities to 33,714 in a country of 80 million. In the past 24 hours, Lari said 6,824 people had tested positive, bringing Iran's total reported cases to 558,648.
The increasing cases have overloaded Iran's already stretched hospitals, as renewed US sanctions have hit all sectors of the Iranian economy since Washington withdrew from the 2015 nuclear deal.
In a joint alert from the FBI and two federal agencies, the US-owned hospitals were warned that there was "credible information about an increased and imminent threat of cybercrime to US hospitals and healthcare providers." The alert said the sector was targeted by malicious groups with attacks, including ransomware.
China reported 47 new symptomatic cases on Wednesday, up from 42 a day earlier and marking the highest daily increase in symptomatic cases in over two months, the national health authority of the country said on Thursday. Among its confirmed Covid-19 cases, China does not recognize symptomless infections.
Of the new cases, 23 were local infections in Xinjiang involving previously asymptomatic patients reported in Kashgar following a mass infection. Imported infections originating from overseas were the remainder.