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NEW DELHI (AP) — India counted another record daily increase of coronavirus infections Thursday after Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government faced scathing opposition criticism in Parliament for its handling of the pandemic and a contracting economy that has left millions jobless.

Confirmed cases jumped by 97,894 in the past 24 hours, raising India’s total past 5.

1 million, 0.36% of its nearly 1.4 billion people, the Health Ministry reported.

It also said 1,132 more people died in the past 24 hours, for a total of 83,198. India’s fatalities are third-most in the world, but experts say India has undercounted the COVID-19 toll.

India’s infection numbers are expected within weeks to pass the United States, where more than 6.6 million people have been infected.

On Wednesday, India’s Road Transport and Highways Minister Nitin Gadkari became the second key minister after Home Minister Amit Shah to test positive. Shah was hospitalized for a second time this week due to COVID-19.

As India’s Parliament resumed sittings after a gap of five months, Anand Sharma, Derek O’Brien and other opposition leaders criticized Modi for abruptly imposing a two-month lockdown across the country in March. They said Modi gave no time to state governments to prepare for handling the pandemic and preventing distress to millions of migrant workers who fled their places of work to return to their village homes.

Health Minister Harsh Vardhan defended the government decision and said the lockdown prevented up to 3 million additional cases and up to 78,000 deaths.

Nationwide, India is testing more than 1 million samples per day, a dramatic increase made possible by using a faster, cheaper, but less accurate testing method. On Wednesday, the New Delhi High Court ordered the government to increase RT-PCR tests, which look for the virus genetic code, because the antigen tests that look for viral proteins were only 60% accurate.

In other developments in the Asia-Pacific region:

— New Zealand’s economy shrank by a record 12.2% in the second quarter due to a strict coronavirus lockdown, but forecasts indicate activity is bouncing back. The quarterly fall in GDP was by far the largest on record and signaled New Zealand was in recession for the first time in 11 years. Economists say the decline will likely be followed by a record increase in activity as many businesses get back to work. Forecasts released by the Treasury this week predict unemployment will peak at 7.8%, lower than earlier predictions of nearly 10%.

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The 10 areas of England where coronavirus cases have JUMPED in the last week revealed

COVID-19 infections have jumped significantly in ten areas in England in the last week, data from Public Health England (PHE) has revealed.

Areas such as South Tyneside and Preston suffered the most severe spike in cases up to September 20.

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Data from PHE shows cases in terms of per 100,000 of the population.

It comes as the government this week introduced new restrictions across the country in order to curb the spread of the coronavirus.

The rule of six still remains in place and from today pubs and restaurants will have a curfew of 10pm.

The data from PHE is based on cases from September 13 to September 20.

The figures come as Health Secretary Matt Hancock today revealed that over 10,000 Brits are catching the virus each day.

5Health Secretary Matt Hancock said 10,000 Brits are catching the virus each dayCredit: PA:Press Association

He said the number is "too high" but added "it is still much lower than in the peak".

South Tyneside has seen an increase in cases over the last seven days, going from 98.7 cases per 100,000 of the population to 189.4.

Earlier this week three bars were ordered to close in the area after they breached Covid-19 guidelines.

While Bolton continues to record the highest rate in England with 212.8 cases per 100,000 of the population, the area has seen a drop in cases in the last week from 213.9.

This means that South Tyneside is the area where cases have jumped the most in the last week.

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Second on the list is the Lancashire city of Preston where cases have jumped from 127.9 to 180.9.

Earlier this week it was revealed that one in four patients admitted to Preston hospital trusts during the pandemic had died from the virus.

LancsLive reported that since the start of the Covid-19 outbreak a total of 252 patients died under the care of Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.

The third area on the list which has also seen a significant increase is Knowsley in Merseyside, where cases have jumped from 109.4 to 175.0.

The area has been forced to adhere to local lockdown restrictions.

Following Knowsley is Bury in Greater Manchester where cases have jumped from 97.9 to 173.3.

Liverpool has also seen an increase in cases, jumping from 114.0 to 170.1.

Halton, which had previously appeared of the King's College London watch list, has also seen an increase in cases from 81.1 to 168.5.

Next on the list is Newcastle upon Tyne where cases have jumped from 67.4 to 158.8.

The jump in cases comes after a Greggs factory in the area had to close.

5The site in Longbenton has around 300 employees and will be deep cleaned before reopening.Credit: NCJ Media

The bakery chain said it decided to temporarily close the site in Newcastle after a "small number" of its team tested positive for the disease.

Cases in Manchester are also on the up and have jumped from 82.5 to 153.2.

Just four days ago Greater Manchester was placed on red alert after a spike in cases.

Pendle has also seen an increase in cases jumping from 72.7 to 150.9 and Wigan has gone from 48.1 cases to 106.8.

In order to help stop the spread of the virus and help those with the virus isolate correctly, the NHS today launched its Track and Trace app.

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The contact tracing app has gone live from September 24 across England and Wales in the hope it will reduce the spread of the virus by identifying and containing the bug. 

Brits were urged to download the long-delayed Covid-19 contact tracing software after it launched across England and Wales today.

But within hours, flaws in how the app functions has emerged - despite months of setbacks while it was piloted on the Isle of Wight.

Despite many users experiencing issues with the app, Mr Hancock has claimed that the app matches the accuracy of that of other offerings and denied there were any issues with the app.

Matt Hancock reveals almost 10,000 people catching coronavirus a day

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