Asia Today: India sees 83,000 new cases, but numbers falling

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Hindu devotees wearing face masks as a precaution against the coronavirus offer prayers at Shakti Ganesh temple in Hyderabad, India, Tuesday, Sept. 22, 2020. The nation of 1.3 billion people is expected to become the pandemic’s worst-hit country within weeks, surpassing the United States. (AP Photo/Mahesh Kumar A.)

NEW DELHI (AP) — India reported more than 83,000 new coronavirus cases on Wednesday, showing some decline after reaching a record a week earlier.

The country has now confirmed more than 5.6 million cases. The health ministry also reported 1,085 new fatalities, raising the death toll to 90,020.

India is expected to become the world’s worst-hit country within weeks, surpassing the United States, where nearly 6.9 million people have been infected by the virus.

But the past week has seen some improvement in India, with the numbers dropping after a record 97,894 new cases were reported on Sept. 16.

Balram Bhargava, director-general of the Indian Council for Medical Research, said Tuesday that vaccines with at least 50% efficacy will be approved for use against the coronavirus. That’s the benchmark set by the World Health Organization, as no vaccine for respiratory diseases is 100% effective, Bhargava told reporters.

In other developments in the Asia-Pacific region:

— Xi Jinping, China’s president and the leader of its Communist Party, cast the fight against the virus as an important exercise in international cooperation, an opportunity to “join hands and be prepared to meet even more global challenges.” Xi took oblique potshots at the United States and its foreign policies, cautioning in a U.N. address Tuesday that the world must “not fall into the trap of a clash of civilizations” — remarks played minutes after delegates heard U.S. President Donald Trump insist that the United Nations “hold China accountable” for how it handled the emergence of the coronavirus. While Xi, being prerecorded and not there, could not rebut what Trump said, his U.N. ambassador was in the General Assembly chamber and responded directly while introducing the Xi video.

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