Health Desk- May 31, 2020: India on Saturday announced a major relaxation of the world's biggest coronavirus lockdown from early June, except for so-called "containment zones" with high numbers of infections.
The announcement came after the country reported a record daily jump of 7,964 new COVID-19 infections on Saturday.
A home ministry order said that places of religious worship, hotels, restaurants and shopping malls "will be allowed" to operate from June 8, while educational establishments will be opened "after consultations" with Indian state authorities.
Earlier on Saturday, in an open letter marking one year into his second term, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi appealed to the country's population of 1.3 billion to follow all lockdown rules to stop the spread of the pandemic.
The prime minister said there was a "long battle" ahead against the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19.
"Our country (is) besieged with problems amidst a vast population and limited resources," Modi said, adding that labourers and migrant workers had "undergone tremendous suffering" due to restrictions.
India has recorded a total of 173,763 COVID-19 cases and 4,971 deaths, making it the ninth most-affected country globally, Reuters data showed.
While fatality rates in India have been lower than in worse-hit countries, experts warned that its peak has not been reached due to mounting cases of new infections.