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India logs lowest virus cases in weeks, concerns over farmer protest


India’s coronavirus caseload neared 27 million with 196,427 new infections recorded on Tuesday, the country’s lowest daily rise in cases since mid-April.

Some 3,511 COVID-19 patients have died in the past 24 hours, bringing the overall death toll to 307,231, health ministry data showed.

The South Asian country, which is battling a second deadly wave of the pandemic, has been reporting more than 200,000 daily infections since April 14.

It logged the world’s highest daily tally of 414,188 cases on May 7, after which the pace of infections was slowing down, officials said.

Experts say the official estimates are an undercount and the actual numbers of infections and deaths may be far higher.

Indian states are scrambling to get vaccines amid shortages even as the infections have spread to rural areas in recent weeks.

Thousands of farmers were meanwhile converging on the borders of New Delhi, where they plan to hold a Black Day on Wednesday, marking six months of their protests against contentious farm laws.

Government leaders including Punjab chief minister Amarinder Singh has appealed to them to call off the protest, saying it had the potential to become a super spreader event.

Officials in Delhi’s nearby Haryana and Punjab states have blamed the farmers, who held mass protests through the winter for the spread of infections in rural areas.

For the past several months, farmers have been demanding a complete rollback of three agricultural laws as well as a new law guaranteeing the government’s minimum support price for their produce.

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