CHENNAI l SATURDAY l APRIL 11, 2020 l `7.00 l PAGES 16 l LATE CITY EDITION OPEC, ALLIES REACH DEAL TO SLASH GLOBAL OIL OUPUT Major oil producers around the world, except Mexico, have agreed to cut output by 10% to help shore up falling prices MEXICO PUTS A SPOKE IN THE WHEEL... ... BUT U.S. STEPS IN TO SAVE THE DEAL In a meeting of OPEC countries and allies, a deal was proposed to slash the global oil output by 10 million barrels per day (bpd) from May till the end of June, and then, eight million bpd from July till the end of the year. However, Mexico refused to cut its output by the needed 4,00,000 bpd. Instead, it was prepared to dial back its production by one-fourth of the requisite figure ■ As doubts were being cast about the deal’s survival, President Donald Trump said the US will cut its production to compensate for Mexico’s share in output cut, thereby throwing it a lifeline 50% ■ The impact of the cuts on prices was not immediately clear as the global oil markets were shut on Friday for the Easter weekend DECLINE IN CRUDE OIL PRICES SINCE THE START OF THE YEAR CHENNAI ■ MADURAI ■ VIJAYAWADA ■ BENGALURU ■ KOCHI ■ HYDERABAD ■ VISAKHAPATNAM ■ COIMBATORE ■ KOZHIKODE ■ THIRUVANANTHAPURAM ■ BELAGAVI ■ BHUBANESWAR ■ SHIVAMOGGA ■ MANGALURU ■ TIRUPATI ■ TIRUCHY ■ TIRUNELVELI ■ SAMBALPUR ■ HUBBALLI ■ DHARMAPURI ■ KOTTAYAM ■ KANNUR ■ VILLUPURAM ■ KOLLAM ■ WARANGAL ■ TADEPALLIGUDEM ■ NAGAPATTINAM ■ THRISSUR ■ KALABURAGI NON-ESSENTIAL GOODS CALL TO LET INDUSTRY HUM IN VIRUS-FREE AREAS AT LEAST J AYA N TA R O Y C H O W D H U R Y @ New Delhi THE government is considering requests from industry to gradually open the exit route from the ongoing lockdown to allow firms producing non-essentials, too, to restart activity with a reduced workforce at least in areas that are coronavirus-free. One of the suggestions is to allow younger employees to work, as they are less prone to infections — with proper social distancing on the work floor and maintenance of hygiene. Officials said such steps may be considered in areas that are virus-free and 4 SCENARIOS where factories have worker quarters 1. Areas with no or hostels, so that movement remains coronavirus cases restricted. Industry bodies also sugand no inward gested limited public transportation migration of for workers besides the movement of workers. Allow all sectors to function, goods freely in non-Covid areas so that their factories could re-start to a limsays Ficci ited extent. 2. Areas with no Said Dilip Chenoy Secretary General , infection but of Ficci, “we should consider opening inward migration of up selectively economic activity in workers. Open up those districts where there is no spread with restrictions of Covid, in a graded manner … of course with social distancing and fol3. Areas where lowing certain standard operating no new cases are procedures.” reported. Extend The suggestions also call for limited lockdown by a week train and bus services to allow workwith rapid testing ers, especially migrants, to return to 4. Areas where new their workplaces, relaxations for retailcases are cropping ers and e-commerce companies to alup. Continue strict low the wheels of commerce to move lockdown while maintaining ample restrictions on the movement of people. Sharad Kumar Saraf, President of FIEO, said, “a fine balancing is required between life and livelihood, as opting for (only) one, can be disastrous for the country .” Industry organisations are also suggesting the continuation of high import tariffs to protect them from dumping by countries like China, whose industry re-started before India, and clearing of payments by government buyers – including states and PSUs – so that industry’s cash flow problem is somewhat addressed. WHAT’S INSIDE NBFCs may face liquidity challenges No community transmission, says govt ICMR report on 40 patients having no history of foreign travel or contact with infected patients raises questions Punjab at cusp of Stage III: CM Punjab Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh on Friday indicated spotting signs of the virus’s community transmission. He said since most of the 27 new cases were of secondary transmission, Punjab could be reaching outbreak Stage III WHO category The WHO has changed India‘s classification from ‘local transmission’ to ‘cluster of cases’ S U M I S U K A N YA D U T TA @ New Delhi THE COVID RIDDLE J&K 1 1 Punjab 1 1 Haryana 4 3 Chandigarh 1 1 Delhi 14 5 Uttar Pradesh 4 2 Assam 1 1 Bihar 3 2 Gujarat 13 4 Tripura 2 1 Madhya Pradesh 5 2 Maharashtra 21 8 Karnataka 2 2 Kerala 1 1 West Bengal 9 6 Jharkhand 1 1 Odisha 2 1 Telangana 8 2 Andhra Pradesh 4 2 Tamil Nadu 5 5 +ve cases + those with no contact history Districts THOUGH India’s top health research agency released a surveillance report quantifying the coronavirus positive cases in 36 districts in 15 states that had no history of foreign travel or contact with known infected patients, the Union health ministry insisted that the outbreak had not reached the community transmission stage yet. The national surveillance network coordinated by the Indian Council of Medical Research found 40 such patients admitted in government hospitals. They had severe acute respiratory illness (SARI) and were Covid-19 positive. A total of 104 SARI patients— that’s not the case now.” Reacting to the ICMR report, he said those cases implied that “contact tracing has not been done properly and those cases need further investigation.” Infectious disease experts and virologists, however, criticised the government for “not being truthful to the citizens.” “No epidemiologist can say that there is no community transmission now especially when there is such strong evidence to suggest that,” said Dr T Sundararaman, community health expert and former director of the National Health Systems Resource Centre. CONTINUED ON: P7 896 new cases; India has more than required stock of anti-malarial drug EXPRESS NEWS SERVICE @ New Delhi INDIA’S COVID-19 cases rose by 896 since Thursday evening— the highest single-day spike so far—taking the total number of active cases in the country to 6,039, the Union health ministry said on Friday. With 37 deaths, the total toll has climbed to 206. According to the Maharashtra health department, the state recorded 210 positive cases on Friday, taking its total count to 1,364. In Delhi, 183 new cases and two deaths were reported. With the number of positive cases rising, the Union government on Friday assured the nation that India has enough stock of hydroxychloroquine tablets to meet the domestic demand for treating the infection. “Based on our projected requirement, we need one crore tablets of hydroxychloroquine for the coming one week. We have 3.28 crore tablets with us today. So, we have more than three times supply relative to the domestic requirement,” Joint Secretary in the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare Lav Agarwal said, adding the 3.28 crore Hydroxychloroquine pills in stock to satisfy India’s domestic needs stock is sufficient to meet India’s needs till the end of April. He added that the decision to export some surplus tablets has been taken only after reviewing domestic needs. “Domestic requirement and production of hydroxychloroquine have been 100% ensured, not even for today, but for the coming times as well,” Lav Agarwal added. Meanwhile, following a meeting with state health ministers, Union health minister Harsh Vardhan said that the global experience so far suggests that it takes 5 to 6 weeks to flatten the curve of COVID-19. “Therefore, people should not lose patience,” he said while urging state governments to ensure that the lockdown measures are fully enforced. Panic abound as DMS staff tests positive Non-banking financial companies (NBFCs) may face liquidity challenges partly because of a lack of clarity on the RBI’s moratorium announced on bank loans and also because of poor collections owing to the nationwide lockdown, according to research agency Crisil. Analysts said while better-rated NBFCs may manage the situation, smaller or lower-rated NBFCs will find the going extremely tough EXPRESS NEWS SERVICE @ Chennai IT firms may see revenues drop India’s mid size information technology companies may report a 50-60% revenue drop in the first two quarters of FY21 on the back of deferred client payments, deal withdrawals, unsustainable work from home norms and client concentration across impacted verticals. The midtier companies employ nearly 40-60 lakh people. Growth is expected only in the next financial year, FY22, according to analysts Govt mulls relaxing accounting norms The government is considering relaxing accounting norms for companies, given their problems in fulfilling compliance norms during the lockdown period. the government is in talks with the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India to see how this can be done. Among other suggestions is an extension of the date for the fiscal year | P10 out of 5,911 from 52 districts— had tested positive for Covid-19. While 40 had no history of foreign travel or contact with infected patients, two others were in contact with a lab-confirmed positive case while one had been abroad. Besides, the study did not have any data for 59 other positive cases. It recommended that all districts with Covid-19 positive SARI patients be considered hotspots for containment. Lav Agarwal, joint secretary in the health ministry, said during the daily briefing: “we will be the first one to tell you when there is community transmission of the disease but ALL FISH FOR ME With most fishermen staying put, this painted stork at Pallikaranai marshland has no trouble finding a meal | ASHWIN PRASATH THERE’S panic among the staff and officials of the Directorate of Medical Services (DMS) as a typist working with them has tested positive. A senior health department official confirmed the development to Express. “A male typist aged 45 tested positive on Thursday the ,” source said. “We have placed 10 staff members on quarantine, including additional directors who worked with him closely over the last five days.” The official added that the patient only worked with the DMS section, and did not come in contact with anyone at the Directorate of Public Health. Health workers taking nasal swab samples from a woman at a public health laboratory in Egmore, Chennai, on Friday | DEBADATTA MALLICK Palaniswami to decide on lockdown extension today EXPRESS NEWS SERVICE @ Chennai WHILE the expert panel formed by the State has advised extending the lockdown by another 14 days and the Indian Medical Association by another three weeks, a final decision will be taken by Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami on Saturday after meeting his Cabinet colleagues and discussing the issue with Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Addressing the media on Friday, Chief Secretary K Shanmugam said Palaniswami has been considering the views of all experts on the matter. The CM held a meeting with the expert panel on Friday, which suggested withdrawing the lockdown only after bringing the cases under control. “Around 17 members participated in the two-hour meeting. Sowmya Swamanithan, Chief Scientist with W H O, a l s o p a r t i c i p at e d through video conference from Geneva. The panel recommended an extension as cases have been increasing in the last one week,” said Prabhdeep Kaur, Deputy Director of National Institute of Epideomology, ICMR, who is part of the panel. No more tunnels l State government has instructed not to install any more disinfectant tunnels l In a meeting chaired by CM, experts said there is no scientific proof on their effectiveness l Spraying alcohol or chlorine all over the body won’t kill viruses that have entered the body “The committee has recommended more testings over the next 14 days. Data collected over this period must be used to make an informed decision. The committee also discussed about safety of doctors, nurses and healthcare workers. Patients and their family needs were discussed,” added Kaur. Meanwhile, with the State remaining under lockdown, the government is facing a shortfall of `10,000 crore and is planning to raise the amount through borrowings from financial institutions. Sources told Express that the coffers are in bad shape as taxes have dried up. There is no collection of commercial tax, which otherwise rakes in `7,000 crore a month. Other taxes, which bring in about `2,000 crore have also dried up. 72-yr-old dies in Thoothukudi, 77 fresh cases in TN Coming, farm compensation plan E X P R E S S N E W S S E R V I C E @Chennai A septuagenarian died while 77 fresh COVID-19 cases were reported in Tamil Nadu on Friday taking the State tally to 911. , Addressing the media, Chief Secretary K Shanmugam said that 72 of the cases reported on Friday are contacts of existing patients, while the remaining five have a travel history . A 72-year-old woman died at Thoothukudi Medical College Hospital. She had tested positive on April 7. So far, nine deaths in the State have been confirmed as due to COVID-19. While the woman, her son and COVID-19 tally across Tamil Nadu is 911 Number of COVID-19 positive cases in Tamil Nadu stands at 911. Source of infection in 23 of these cases is yet to be known. The number of deaths owing to the virus attack stands at nine. daughter-in-law tested positive, officials are yet to figure out the source of infection. As the woman’s daughter-inlaw, who works as a technician with a private hospital in the district, has tested positive along with another colleague, authorisation given to 2 private hospitals to treat COVID-19 patients was cancelled. “Of the 911 cases in the State, the source of infection for 23 patients is still not known,” said Shanmugam. This includes staff members of a textile showroom at Phoenix Mall in Chennai. Earlier, officials had suspected that they could have contracted the virus from a traveller who subsequently tested positive in Sri Lanka. Meanwhile, stress levels of people under isolation seems to be skyrocketing. A 60-year-old man placed under isolation at Ariyalur Government Hospital committed suicide by hanging on Friday Official sources said . he took the extreme step even before his results were released. “He has tested negative for COVID-19. We were set to formally announce the results on Saturday.” In Coimbatore ESI Hospital, a patient broke a glass partition for not being allowed home-cooked food. M A N I S H A N A N D @ New Delhi WITH the ongoing lockdown wreaking havoc on the farmers, the Centre is preparing a basket of proposals to reach out to them, including offering compensation, measures for 100 per cent procurement, an App to help cultivators sell to consumers, and intervention to prevent onion prices from shooting up. “Farmers, particularly those who grow fruits, vegetables and flowers, have been affected due to the lockdown. The Centre has issued directives for implementation of the market intervention scheme to bear 50 per cent of the loss equally between the Centre and the states,” said Union Minister for Agriculture and Farmers Welfare Narendra Singh Tomar on Friday . All states, he said, have been asked to set up eight times more procurement centres. “Lockdown has not affected harvesting, with 80 per cent wheat and 100 per cent pulses and oilseeds crops harvested so far. Procurement through FCI and NAFED will be staggered,” said Tomar. With just over 1,600 mandis (agricultural markets) operating out of over 5,000, horticulture and floriculture have been badly hit. Tomar said arrangements are being made for transporting onions to various places to ensure there is no artificial price rise. Also, there’s no delay in harvesting. Measures are being taken for timely sowing of Kharif crops. “An app developed by the Ministry of Agriculture will be unveiled in a couple of days to link farmers with consumers,” he added.
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