Bangladesh, Oct. 23 -- For the fifth day, India has reported below 60,000 new coronavirus cases as the promise of a free COVID-19 vaccine turned into a key state election issue.

The Health Ministry says 54,366 new cases took the overall tally past 7.7 million on Friday.

It also reported 690 deaths in the past 24 hours, raising total fatalities to 117,306, reports AP.

India recorded a daily average of more than 61,000 cases last week. The ministry also said India's active caseload was below 700,000.

A political row erupted after Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Hindu nationalist party promised free vaccination to people in Bihar where voting is scheduled to begin next week. Bihar is India's third-largest state with a population of about ...