India nears nine million coronavirus cases

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A healthcare worker collects a swab sample from a man in Noida
A healthcare worker collects a swab sample from a man in Noida

MUMBAI (Reuters) - India has recorded 45,576 new cases of the coronavirus health ministry data showed on Thursday, taking total infections in the country to 8.96 million.

The South Asian nation has the world's second-highest number of COVID-19 infections, after the United States, but cases have been falling since hitting a peak in September.

Deaths rose by 585, with the total now at 131,578, the ministry said.

The city government of national capital New Delhi said it was working to increase the number of beds in hospital intensive care units, as fears abound of a resurgence in COVID-19 cases after the Diwali festival.

Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal has sought the federal government's approval to shut down city markets, which are likely hotspots for the deadly virus.

His government has also increased the fine for not wearing masks to 2,000 rupees ($26.95) from the previous 500 rupees.

In Prime Minister Narendra Modi's home state of Gujarat, which has reported 192,000 COVID-19 cases so far, the government will impose a night curfew in Ahmedabad city from Friday.

The curfew, which begins at 9:00 p.m. and ends at 6:00 a.m., will be in force until further notice, said Rajiv Kumar Gupta, the senior government official in charge of managing COVID-19 in Ahmedabad.

($1 = 74.2027 Indian rupees)

(Reporting by Shilpa Jamkhandikar in Mumbai and Sumit Khanna in Ahmedabad; Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman and Catherine Evans)