(Updates with details, changes dateline)
By Nigam Prusty
NEW DELHI, Nov 23 (Reuters) - India plans to put off the winter session of parliament due to the rising number of coronavirus infections, a government official said on Monday, with New Delhi facing a shortage of hospital beds and doctors as the epidemic spreads.
While the daily rise in new cases nationally has slowed, there has been a surge of infections in the capital, which officials said was because of the sprawling city of 20 million had remained fully open, with crowds gathering for religious festivals during recent weeks.
On Sunday, Delhi recorded more than 6,700 new cases, the highest daily rise among major cities. India's overall caseload stood at 9.14 million after the addition of 44,059 new cases over the previous 24 hours, the health ministry said on Monday.
The government has begun making moves to delay the winter session of parliament, which usually begins in late November, to avoid the risk of the virus spreading between the hundreds of lawmakers, their staff, visitors and security personnel.
"The government will hold consultations with all the political parties and club the winter session with next year's budget session," a government official aware of the plans told Reuters. Parliament's budget session usually opens at the end of January.
A previous session in September was cut short after dozens of lawmakers and employees in parliament caught the disease despite various preventative measures, including physical distancing.
The city government has asked private hospitals to reserve 80 percent of critical care beds for coronavirus patients, and it has also airlifted doctors from paramilitary forces to help deal with the crisis.
India's Supreme Court also based in New Delhi weighed in on Monday asking the city authorities and three other states to submit a report on the situation.
"We are hearing of a huge spike in the current month. We want a latest status report from states. Worse things may happen in December if states aren't well prepared," the top court said.
<^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ FACTBOX-Worldwide coronavirus cases cross 58.32 million, death toll at 1,385,595
GRAPHIC- COVID-19 cases in major Indian cities
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^> (Writing by Shilpa Jamkhandikar Editing by Editing by Sanjeev Miglani)
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