India’s Coronavirus Case Count Now Third Highest in World

India reported more than 23,000 new coronavirus cases Monday, pushing its total during the pandemic past Russia for third most in the world. India now trails only the United States and Brazil in terms of overall confirmed cases. The country is closed to international travel, but the government has been gradually lifting restrictions on local tourism to try to boost the economy. But in Uttar Pradesh, India’s most populous state, officials have extended lockdowns on businesses, monuments and other attractions in the city of Agra, including at the Taj Mahal, amid the continued spread of COVID-19. “In the interest of the public, it has been decided that opening monuments in Agra will not be advisable as of now,” the district authorities said in a notice published in Hindi.  The Taj Mahal and other tourist sites in Agra have been closed since March.   While governments in many countries grapple with how to respond to the coronavirus, a group of 239 scientists from 32 countries are calling on the World Health Organization to update guidance concerning the prospect airborne spread of the virus.A sign advising social distance is posted at a closed parking lot to Ocean Beach during the coronavirus outbreak, in San Francisco, Sunday, July 5, 2020.The scientists say there is evidence the virus can linger in the air and that smaller particles can infect people.   In Australia, officials announced Monday the closure of the border between Victoria and New South Wales, the country’s two most populous states, after a spike in new infections.  The closure is indefinite and marks the first such move in Australia since a flu pandemic 100 years ago. Greece said Monday it is banning travelers from Serbia until July 15 after the number of cases there rose. In Spain, a county in the northwestern part of the country is on lockdown all week because authorities fear a new COVID-19 outbreak.    Officials in La Marina in the Galicia region placed all 70,000 residents in a countywide quarantine after several bars in the area reported new cases.   Only essential travel in and out of the county is allowed and gatherings of more than 10 people are forbidden.   Spain has been one of Europe’s COVID-19 hotspots with more than 250,000 cases and 28,000 deaths. El Salvador’s President Nayib Bukele has put the next phase of his country’s reopening on hold for two weeks because of a 50% jump in the number of coronavirus cases in the last several days. Buses were to have started running and some businesses and factories were to have started to reopen Tuesday.  Ahead of the start of the hajj pilgrimage that typically draws 2.5 million Muslims in Saudi Arabia, the government said it will limit the number of pilgrims to 1,000. Muslims from outside Saudi Arabia are not allowed this year, and according to new rules announced Monday, pilgrims will not be allowed to touch the Kaaba, and will have to maintain social distancing of at least 1.5 meters while performing rituals and prayers. 

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