Women wearing protective face masks commute in a suburban train in Mumbai, India, Oct 21, 2020. (Photo: Reuters/Niharika Kulkarni)

NEW DELHI - Agencies
India issues warning ahead of state polls as COVID-19 tally crosses 7.7 million

Indian authorities are worried elections in its third-largest state and a religious congregation could spread the coronavirus.

The country's Election Commission issued a warning after political campaigning drew large crowds without masks and social distancing in Bihar, where voting for state elections is due to begin next week.

Bihar is India’s third-largest state with a population of about 122 million people.

India's coronavirus infections rose by 55,839 on Thursday (Oct 22), taking its tally to 7.71 million, health ministry data showed.

The 702 deaths recorded in the past 24 hours brought its total fatalities to 116,616, said the ministry. 

Cases in India have dipped since a peak in September, but experts warn that infections could surge as the peak festival season approaches.

In West Bengal state, a court limited the size of congregations during the Hindu Durga Puja festival.

India has the world's second-highest number of infections after the United States, which has a tally of 8.3 million.

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