New Coronavirus or COVID-19 is slowly becoming a Pandemic it is spreading throughout the world. Coronavirus wrecks havoc in more than 70 countries around the world with over 3,000 deaths reported worldwide, India has stayed relatively unaffected. But with two new cases, one in the national capital Delhi and the other in Telangana, the total count of Indian patients has now gone up to five which is a trivial number if we consider the proximity and close business ties with China, the epicenter of the epidemic.
When India observed the potential risk in China, we took protective measures since January. The Government of India issued a travel advisory to Indians, particularly traveling to Wuhan, where about 500 Indian medical students were present. The government directed 7 major international airports to follow the thermal screening of passengers arriving from China.
On 30 January, the first case was confirmed in India, when a student who had returned from Wuhan University to Kerala. On 2 February, a second case was confirmed in Kerala in a person who traveled regularly between India and China. On 3 February, the third positive case was reported in Kerala. The patient had travelled from Wuhan. All three have since recovered from the infection. Apart from that105 people were quarantined in Maharashtra for possible exposure to the virus, four of whom were kept under observation, as of 1 March, with the rest being discharged. Another suspected case was detected at the Mumbai Airport on 1st March. On the next day, the Health Ministry informed about two more confirmed cases: a person in Delhi who had traveled back from Italy and an individual in Hyderabad who traveled the United Arab Emirates. Besides Indians, an Italian citizen in Jaipur, who was initially tested negative, was tested positive for coronavirus, which makes a total six confirmed cases in the country. 80 people who were in contact with the Hyderabad individual, including fellow bus passengers from Bangalore, were traced by the government and placed under monitoring. Fifteen crew members of the Air India flight, which had carried the Delhi person from Vienna, are being placed in quarantine for 14 days.
Our government was also dedicated to calling back our citizens safely for this on 1st February, India evacuated 324 people which included 3 minors, 211 students and 110 working professionals from the Wuhan region on its first Air India flight. Next day India evacuated 323 Indians and seven Maldivians from the Wuhan region by a second Air India flight. On February 7 Brazil evacuated 34 Brazilians, four Poles, a Chinese and an Indian national from Wuhan by Air Force planes. On 27th February, Indian Air Force airlifted 112 people from Wuhan, among which 76 were Indian nationals and 36 were foreign nationals (23 nationals from Bangladesh, 6 from China, 2 each from Myanmar and Maldives and one each from South Africa, USA and Madagascar). This was the 3rd evacuation flight sent by India to Wuhan. India also provided 15 tonnes of medical assistance comprising masks, gloves and another emergency medical equipment to China through the same IAF flight.
Now if we talk about economy major markets of the world are plunging badly, in fact, US observed its biggest weekly fall since the 2008 crisis, but the Indian market is still maintaining a balance. Robert Subbaraman, the chief economist at Nomura, said the reason could be one factor that has kept India largely untouched by the scourge. While almost all of Asia could be a sitting duck, India’s exposure levels to the virus’ economic fallouts could be lower, he noted. According to Subbaraman, the reason is the unwillingness of India to join the China-driven Asian supply chain that may have played a role in keeping India’s exposure to a minimum. It’s long been one step forward, two steps back when it comes to India joining the Great Asian supply chain where China is the epicenter. This has helped India keep the damage from coronavirus limited even as it has brought the industry to a standstill in many countries across the continent. Also, India does not have strong links with China in terms of visitor arrivals and so forth in some of these other Asian countries but also the economic spill-overs from China on to India are not severe,” Subbaraman said. this could be just one side of the story. Will this defense continue to work if the impact of coronavirus ends up being more protracted than expected? One is not so sure where the situation will head if the virus refuses to go away soon.
The virus spread has so far affected the Indian manufacturing and export industry mainly, medicines, electronics, textiles, and chemicals. The Government said that it was taking all necessary steps to protect the Indian industry from the threat, especially in the market of intermediate goods, whose worth is 30 billion dollars.
On the Other hand our Finance Minister, Nirmala Sitharaman said her government is trying to mitigate the coronavirus impact.
But that may not be enough in case of a long term siege. Last week, the credit rating agency Moody forecast that the virus will put additional pressure on Asia growth rate. The impact will be seen primarily in trade and tourism & through supply-chain disruptions.
The business impact of the virus is already being felt in many parts. While the world stumbled to control its spread, the world’s most China-reliant economy, Australia, is feeling the shockwaves. The faltering of Australian trade has now raised questions on whether the nation is too reliant on China.
Coronavirus has now affected over 88,000 people worldwide, and caused more than 3,000 deaths, with infections on every continent except Antarctica.
According to Nomura economist Sonal Verma, two things need to be keenly watched now from India’s viewpoint one, the sectors in which India depends on China for imports — like electronics, chemicals, pharmaceutical, solar — are likely to see supply-side shocks, and the second is negative demand impact could be just a matter of time for India in case the world economy slows down because of China.
Not only Economic there is there but also misinformation is also a menace for India like one rumor was spreading that only people who eat meat were affected by a coronavirus, which lead to “Nomeat_NoCoronaVirus” to trend on Twitter. To curb these rumors and combat declining sales, poultry industry associations organized a “Chicken and Egg Mela” in Hyderabad. Several Telangana state ministers were in attendance and ate some of the free eggs and fried chicken being distributed at the event to promote the industry.
Other measures by our government are that our government suspended an e-Visa facility for Chinese passport holders and noted that already issued e-Visas are temporarily invalid. An online application for a physical visa from China has also been suspended.
Any persons trying to visit India under compelling circumstances have been advised to contact either the Indian embassy in Beijing or the Indian consulate in Shanghai or Guangzhou. The Indian government is expected to announce more travel restrictions with the fresh cases reported in Delhi and Telangana.
The NIV and 15 other laboratories under the Indian Council of Medical Research’s (ICMR) Viral Research and Diagnostics Laboratories network are equipped to test samples. The labs are equipped with reagents to test up to 25,000 samples. The government noted that 19 more labs will be operational soon to test samples. A total of 3,245 samples have been tested so far, out of which five have tested positive and 23 are pending results.
Our Prime minister has tweeted, asking people to remain calm and take small important precautions to prevent spread.