Asia Minute: India Begins New Phase with COVID-19

May 18, 2020

Governments around the world are spending hundreds of billions of dollars to fight the economic freeze that has followed the coronavirus pandemic. Debates are still continuing about whether to spend more — as well as the pace of reopening business.

New cases of COVID-19 are still on the rise in India — especially in the biggest cities. Testing has increased, but still remains relatively slow.

Last week the overall number of tests conducted passed the two-million mark in a country of roughly 1.4 billion. As a point of comparison, The Hindustan Times reports the testing rate in India remains at about 5% the pace of testing in the United States.

Reported cases in India are approaching 100,000, while deaths are approaching 3,000. Nearly a third of the reported cases are concentrated in the capital of New Delhi and the financial capital of Mumbai.

Government officials have divided the country into different zones based on the severity of the outbreak – green, orange and red.

The Straits Times quotes a private bank economist as saying more than 40% of India’s economic activity comes from red zones — those most severely affected.

Last week, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced an aid package with a headline figure of 266-billion dollars — including measures that have already been taken. About 15% of that amount is targeted for small business — further details on spending are likely to emerge in coming days and weeks.