A health worker collects a nasal swab sample to test for COVID-19 at a government hospital in Jammu, India, Tuesday, September 15, 2020 – AP Photo: Channi Anand

Associated Press: NEW DELHI, India — India confirmed more than 83,000 new coronavirus cases on Tuesday, bringing its total caseload to nearly 5 million.

The Health Ministry also reported 1,054 new deaths, driving total fatalities up to 80,776.

With 4.93 million confirmed cases, India has the second-highest total in the world after the US Infections have maintained an upward surge amid an ease in coronavirus restrictions nationwide. More than 600,000 new cases have been confirmed in the last week alone.

Maharashtra, with more than 1 million cases, remains the worst-affected state in India, followed by Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Uttar Pradesh.

India, however, also has the highest number of recovered patients in the world, according to Johns Hopkins University. The country’s recovery rate stands at 77.8%, with nearly 3.8 million people recovering from the virus so far, according to the Health Ministry.

India’s Parliament, which reopened Monday after being shut down for more than five months due to the coronavirus, said that more than 10 million migrant laborers had made their way back to their home states from various corners of the country during a strict nationwide lockdown. It said there was no data available for the number of migrant deaths.

A flood of migrant workers, out of money and fearing starvation, poured out of cities and headed back to villages when Prime Minister Narendra Modi ordered the nationwide lockdown on March 24. The unprecedented migration was one key reason that the virus spread to the far reaches of the country.

The lockdown also caused a severe economic crisis. India’s economy contracted nearly 24% in the second quarter, the worst among the world’s top economies.

Elsewhere in the Asia-Pacific region:

A man and a child wearing face masks to help curb the spread of the coronavirus ride on a bicycle past a street in Beijing, Tuesday, September 15, 2020 – AP Photo: Andy Wong

— Nearly 1.8 million Hong Kong residents took voluntary coronavirus tests as part of a massive community testing program, resulting in 42 cases being identified, the government said Tuesday. The two-week testing program, which ended Monday, was aimed at identifying silent carriers of the coronavirus to cut the transmission chain in a wave of cases that began in July. Although the total number of people tested fell short of the government’s initial estimate of four to five million, officials say the program met its objectives. “The program ended smoothly, we have met the policy objective,” Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam said at a news conference. “We have identified confirmed cases, we’ve isolated them and given them treatment to cut the transmission chain.” China’s central government provided resources and staff for the testing program in the city, and many Hong Kong residents expressed fear that DNA might be collected despite the Hong Kong government dismissing such concerns. Since the outbreak’s peak in July — blamed in part on exemptions from quarantine requirements for airline staff, truck drivers from mainland China and sailors on cargo ships — cases have steadily dwindled. Hong Kong reported no new local coronavirus infections on Tuesday for the first time in over two months. The government also said it would further relax social-distancing measures, allowing bars, amusement parks and swimming pools to re-open. Restaurants will also be allowed to serve customers until midnight. However, a ban on public gatherings of more than four people remains in place. Hong Kong has recorded 4,976 infections so far, including 101 deaths.

— China has reported eight new coronavirus cases, all from people who entered the country, including two Myanmar nationals who had crossed the land border at the Chinese city of Ruili. Myanmar has seen a surge in new coronavirus cases. On Friday, the country reimposed tough measures to control the spread of the disease. Ruili was placed under lockdown on Monday evening, with people banned from leaving the city and residents quarantined at home for a week. A government statement said all residents of the city would be tested for the virus and authorities would crack down on the area’s notorious cross-border smuggling trade. The border itself was closed and additional restrictions placed on outlying villages. China has gone a month without new cases of domestic infection.

— South Korea’s daily coronavirus tally has stayed in the low 100s for a third consecutive day, maintaining a downward trajectory. The 106 cases added Tuesday brought the country’s total to 22,391, including 367 deaths. South Korea’s daily jump has remained in triple digits for more than a month, but its caseload has recently gradually slowed down in the wake of stringent social distancing rules. The government on Monday relaxed physical distancing guidelines in the greater Seoul area, the heart of a recent viral resurgence.

  • Top Feature Photo: People wearing face masks to prevent the spread of the coronavirus stand maintaining social distance at a bust stop in Kolkata, India, Tuesday, Sept. 15, 2020. India’s coronavirus cases are now the second-highest in the world and only behind the United States – AP Photo: Bikas Das