CHENNAI l SATURDAY l APRIL 18, 2020 l `7.00 l PAGES 16 l LATE CITY EDITION CHINA DIDN’T REPORT OVER A THOUSAND DEATHS IN WUHAN China on Friday admitted that an additional 1,290 people died of Covid-19 in Wuhan, but their deaths were not reported AN ATTEMPT TO WARD OFF CRITICISM? WUHAN’S TOLL NOW UP BY 50% Wuhan authorities tried to wash off their hands saying most of the newly reported deaths happened at homes, soon after the outbreak when testing facilities were limited. Meanwhile, Beijing has portrayed Friday’s revision as a “responsible action, based on facts”. However, analysts see it as an attempt to put to rest allegations that China is misleading the world on its actual toll ■ ■ This is not the first time China is revising its data on Covid-19 cases. On February 15, the country abruptly added 15,000 new cases to its total count citing a change in methodology With Friday’s revision, the total toll in China’s worst-affected city—Wuhan—has risen by about 50% from 2,579 to 3,869 83,760 WAS THE TOTAL NUMBER OF COVID-19 CASES IN CHINA ON FRIDAY 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 Dear Reader, Starting today, the Editorial Page is being revamped as part of our continuous endeavour to provide you a more comprehensive newspaper. While the Mindspace column has been dropped, the page will have two opinion pieces every day instead of one, making the basket of views more wideranging than before. It will have more columnists so as to add to your wholesome reading experience. The Mailbag section has been redesigned, but its total space remains unaltered, happy as we are to engage with you. In the revamped Opinion Page of The New Sunday Express, there will now be more space to accommodate your letters to the Editor. ECONOMY GETS NEW ANTI-VIRAL SHOT Central bank further eases bad loan rules; stops dividend payment by lenders; prods banks to lend more; eases credit flow to NBFCs S U N I T H A N AT T I Happy reading. Editor MORE STIMULUS COMING: NIRMALA Participating in a World Bank meeting, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Friday said India will soon announce fresh relief measures and economic stimulus for the poor and the industry L5,204 crore Total value of income tax refunds issued by CBDT in the last 10 days to 8.2 lakh small businesses since April 8 Since March 27, 2020, when I spoke to you last, the macroeconomic and financial landscape has deteriorated, precipitously in some areas; but light still shines through bravely in some others Shaktikanta Das, RBI governor NATIONWIDE ACTIVE CASES 11,616 TOTAL DEATHS RECOVERED CASES 452 1,766 Trace Rohingyas tied to Tablighis, states told S A N A S H A K I L @ New Delhi THE Centre has asked all states and Union Territories to prioritise the tracing of Rohingya Muslims who attended a Tablighi Jamaat event in the Nizamuddin Markaz, which spawned the largest cluster of coronavirus positive cases in the country . Suspecting that some of the Rohingyas from Telangana, Delhi, Punjab and Jammu may have contracted the infection, the Union home ministry said the Rohingyas and their contacts “may need to be screened for COVID-19”. According to the ministry’s letter to the states, Rohingyas living in camps in Hyderabad had gone to attend Tablighi Jamaat events in Mewat (Haryana) and the Nizamuddin Markaz. Rohingyas based in Derabassi, Punjab and Jammu are also said to have attended the Nizamuddin event. It claimed that “Rohingyas living in Delhi’s Shram Vihar and Shaheen Bagh are yet to return to their camps”. The letter seeking compliance has been marked to chief secretaries of states, administrators of UTs, directors general of police of all states/UTs and the Delhi Police Commissioner. It, however, does not specify the dates/month on which Rohing yas visited Nizamuddin. Tablighi Jamaat, which came under the scanner for its THE RBI is expected to cut quick sticks just like its global peers to contain the Covid-19 economic fallouts, but India’s central bank maintained a Zenlike calm reserving much of its precious ammo for another day . On Friday though, Governor Shaktikanta Das announced nine measures to ease liquidity , credit flow and financial stress, but received only two cheers in return. That’s because the market was expecting a US-styled splash-the-cash monetary stimulus where the Federal Reserve cracked open its vaults buying bonds directly from corporates and more. RBI too has adopted a ‘whatever it takes’ approach, but for Das and team that moment of reckoning is still days, or perhaps weeks away Which is why . , Friday’s measures ranging from a 25 bps reverse repo rate reduction to `50,000 crore Targeted Lending Rate Operations (TLTRO-2.0) with special mention to NBFCs to relaxation of NPA classification norms to lower liquidity coverage requirement to banks, were all written off as small beer. LIQUIDITY COVER Helping NBFCs `50,000 cr Targeted Long Term Operations, with at least 50 per cent going to small and mid-sized NBFCs and MFIs; move will ease credit flow to NBFCs Escaping NPA trap All standard accounts availing three-month moratorium exempted from the 90-DAY NPA norm; aimed at helping banks avoid a rash of defaults REVERSE REPO CUT Rate at which RBI takes funds from banks, called reverse repo, cut by 25 bps from 4 per cent to 3.75; expected to prod banks to lend more rather than parking funds with the central bank According to Suyash Choudhary Head-Fixed Income, IDFC , AMC, the RBI is somewhat underestimating the real problem, which in his view is inadequate availability of risk capital. Hence, some of the push measures may not yield much. Just why? Take banks. Though RBI is offering ultracheap money at just 4.4 per cent interest, banks aren’t playing ball. They are taking the NBFCs, CO-OP SOCIETIES CAN WORK FROM MONDAY EXPRESS NEWS SERVICE @ New Delhi THE government on Friday expanded the list of activities that will be exempt from the purview of the lockdown from April 20, including more categories of construction and sanitation works, and non-banking financial institutions and cooperative credit societies. The Union home ministry said collection, harvesting and processing of minor forest produce, non-timber forest produce by Scheduled Tribes and other forest dwellers will be allowed. Also, construction activities in rural areas, including water supply and sanitation, laying and erection of power transmission lines and laying of telecom optical fiber and cable along with related activities, will be permitted during the lockdown. Also, non-banking financial institutions, including housing finance companies, and micro finance institutions with minimum staff and cooperative credit societies can function. Likewise, plantation of bamboo, coconut, arecanut, cocoa and spices, their harvesting and processing can resume. Around 40,000 refugees in India There are about 17,500 Rohingyas registered as refugees in India, according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. The actual figure could be way higher, with government sources pegging it around 40,000 mid-March event, traces its roots to Mewat region. The event was attended by over 2,000 people who stayed at the markaz flouting social distancing norms enforced by the government. Rohingyas are scattered across many states, including Delhi, J&K and Telangana. RULES BEND FOR VIP s A video grab shows scores of people flouting social distancing norms in Bengaluru at the wedding of former chief minister H D Kumaraswamy’s son Nikhil on Friday BANKS’ LIQUIDITY COVERAGE RATIO REQUIREMENT REDUCED FROM 100 TO 80 PER CENT. WILL HELP LENDERS INVEST MORE OUTSIDE THE GOVERNMENT SECURITIES Advances to states Ways and Means Advances (WMA) limit for states increased by 60 per cent until September. Will give greater comfort to states and space out market borrowings better instead of bunching them together resulting in higher interest rates Support to MSMEs special refinancing facility for Nabard, Sidbi and National Housing Bank; will channelise fresh loans to MSMEs and microfinance companies money alright, but are lending it only to those with piles of cash to avoid defaults. The trouble is, with economic activity grinding to a halt, small and mid-size firms are facing cash-flow issues, and absence of bank credit could potentially tur n them insolvent. This, in turn, will add to unemployment. To prevent the ensuing crisis, Das on Friday mandated banks to deploy 50 @ Chennai IN a marginal spike, 56 fresh cases were reported across the State on Friday including a pri, vate doctor from Vellore. Meanwhile, the Cardiology Department block at Rajiv Gandhi Government General Hospital was closed and inpatients were shifted to an alternative facility after a postgraduate doctor in the department tested positive for COVID-19 on Thursday . Speaking to Express, R Jay- Even as there is a mild spike in number of cases, people queue up outside a bank in Chennai on Friday| P JAWAHAR anthi, Dean, Rajiv Gandhi Government General Hospital, said, “The entire block has been closed temporarily for disinfection and patients have been shifted to an alternative facility in the hospital. We have asked only the postgraduate doctors to go under quarantine, and no patient has been quarantined.” According to sources, the infected doctor had been posted at COVID-19 isolation ward of the hospital. Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami had said on Thursday that 11 doctors, a cleanliness workers and a sanitary worker had tested positive so far. On a brighter side, as many as 103 people got cured of the infection and were discharged from hospitals on Friday . According to a media bulletin issued by the Directorate of Public Health, Thanjavur reported 17 cases; Chennai 11; per cent of the `50,000 crore raised via TLTRO 2.0 among NBFCs and MFIs. Besides liquidity the market , also wants to know RBI’s go-to action plan to manage the oversupply of government bonds. Elsewhere, central banks are coming to the governments’ rescue even if it means printing more currency . What we all know is that both central and state governments have to spend not only during the 40-day lockdown pe- India’s virus cases doubling at slower pace EXPRESS NEWS SERVICE @ New Delhi IMPLYING that the nationwide lockdown has curbed the spread of the coronavirus in India, the Centre on Friday said the number of Covid-19 cases in the country is now doubling every 6.2 days, instead of every three days as was the case before the lockdown. “Before the lockdown, the doubling rate of coronavirus cases was three days. Going by the number of cases in the last seven days, the doubling rate has been 6.2 days. In 19 states and Union Territories, the doubling rate is less than the national average,” Lav Agarwal, joint secretary in the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, said on Friday . States and Union Territories that slowed down the doubling rate include Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Odisha, Delhi and Puducherry. Agarwal also pointed to a 40% decline in the growth factor of new virus cases. “We have been witnessing an average growth factor of 1.2 since April 1, which stood at 2.1 on average between March 15 to March 31. So, there is a 40 per cent decline,” he said, crediting the expansion of testing. With 1,007 fresh cases since Thursday evening, India’s total case count reached 13,834 on Friday evening. P5,7,8,9,11 Mild spike in cases as 56 test positive in Tamil Nadu EXPRESS NEWS SERVICE `50,000 crore riod, but also during the postCovid reconstruction phase to revive economic activity Clear. ly the general government defi, cit (centre and states) will rise exponentially (even over 10 per cent). But if states and the Centre borrow more, the increased supply of government bonds in a demand-slump market will spike yields higher. That’s why , market is seeking clarity on how RBI will absorb these bonds. “To be fair to RBI, it may be awaiting the actual announcement of borrowing to unveil the absorption plan,” Choudhary added. Meanwhile, the central bank governor indicated that all options were on the table including buying bonds from the open market when needed. While he emphasised that macroeconmic landscape deteriorated severely in some cases, India continues to be among a handful of countries with positive growth. Finally, he presented a benign analysis of inflation noting that prices will likely settle below the mandated 4 per cent by second half, which will leave additional space to reduce policy rates later. P10 Tiruvallur and Tenkasi five each; Tiruchy and Vellore three each; Theni, Nagapattinam and Villupuram two each; and Dindigul and Karur one case each. As on date, 1,02,842 passengers were put under home quarantine for 28 days. Currently 34 asymptomatic passen, gers from highly-affected countries are being quarantined at facilities near airports and 1,891 are in hospital isolation. A total of 283 persons have been discharged from hospitals so far. P4 Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami addressing reporters after chairing a review meeting in Salem on Friday | EXPRESS TN seeks 50k rapid test kits from Centre ever, industries located in places announced as prohibWHILE Tamil Nadu got its ited areas are not allowed to first batch of 24,000 rapid test function. We have constituted kits on Friday Chief Minister a panel headed by the Finance , Edappadi K Palaniswami has Secretary to select which inasked the Centre to provide an dustries can be allowed to additional 50,000 units from its function. The government will share to boost the fight against announce it on April 20.” the virus in the State. “The On providing welfare assisState government has paid tance to unorganised workers, China for 1.25 lakh kits of he said they will receive the which 24,000 have arrived. The benefits in the next five days. Centre is giving us only 12,000, “We have instructed all Amma and we have asked for 50,000. Unavagams to function during We had a word with the lockdown. Till the Union Health date, a total of 2.51 M i n i s t e r, a n d h e lakh people have been promised to consider served by these canour request,” the CM teens in Salem. GroThis is not an told re por ters on inter-State issue ceries have been delike water sharing l i v e r e d a t t h e Friday . on which we can Palaniswami was doorstep of 23,000 conduct an addressing the media people through 78 deall-party meeting after chairing a repartmental stores in and arrive at a view meeting with ofthe district.” He said decision ficials in Salem. “It is 98 per cent of ration Edappadi K our duty to save the card holders have rePalaniswami, people and the AIADceived the `1,000 reChief Minister MK government has lief assistance anacted exceptionally nounced by the well during various natural government. calamities. The spread of “We also announced essenCOVID-19 is under control ow- tial commodities including ing to various steps taken by rice, dhal and oil for migrant the government. As on Thurs- workers. In Salem, majority day a total of 180 persons have of the workers have received , recovered and been dis- it. Others will receive it within charged. Only those who were four days,” he added. Respondadmitted with the infection in ing to criticism by DMK chief an advanced state are taking MK Stalin, he said: “I am not time to recover,” he said. going to care about what StaOn allowing industries to lin says. We are fighting to start functioning after April save lives. The Opposition 20, he said, “The Union gov- leader should act in a responernment has given permission sible manner and not play to run some industries. How- with the lives of people.” P4 E X P R E S S N E W S S E R V I C E @ Salem
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