June 16, 2020 / 6:24 AM / 24 days ago

Delhi health minister in hospital as infections surge in India

A man gets off a ladder as he completes a mural paying tribute to 'COVID-19 warriors' as India eases lockdown restrictions that were imposed to slow the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in New Delhi, India, June 8, 2020. REUTERS/Anushree Fadnavis

NEW DELHI (Reuters) - The health minister in Delhi’s state government checked into hospital with high fever and was being tested for coronavirus on Tuesday as India reported more than 10,500 new infections that are threatening to overwhelm hospitals.

India has opened up businesses, public transport and shopping malls to resuscitate a battered economy but the ending of the nearly 70-day lockdown has come just as cases are rising at their fastest daily levels.

The total number of infections stood at 343,091, the world’s fourth most after the United States, Brazil and Russia, the health ministry data showed. At least 9,900 people have died, far fewer than the United States and Brazil, but more than Russia.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who initially won praise for imposing a vast lockdown on India’s 1.3 billion population early on in the pandemic, called state chief ministers for a video conference to discuss measures to deal with the surge in cases.

The big cities of Delhi, Mumbai and Chennai remain the worst affected.

“Due to high grade fever and a sudden drop of my oxygen levels last night I have been admitted to RGSSH (Rajiv Gandhi Super Speciality Hospital). Will keep everyone updated,” Delhi’s health minister Satyendar Jain said in a tweet. He would be tested for the disease and results were expected by later Tuesday, a member of Jain’s party said.

Several senior officials from finance, foreign affairs and law departments that are all based in Delhi have tested positive over the past few weeks. Most have been working in offices from the beginning of the crisis.

Jain himself attended a meeting on Sunday where Home Minister Amit Shah and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal were present. It was not immediately known if Shah, seen as the most powerful member of the cabinet after Modi, was going to test.

Kejriwal had tested negative earlier in the month.

Editing by Raju Gopalakrishnan

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