CORONA … India toll at 114, lifts curbs on drug export after US threat

NEW DELHI: India’s Covid toll stood at 114 deaths and 4,221 infections on Tuesday morning even as the nation remained under a -for two full weeks. Maharashtra reported seven more deaths on Monday and Asia’s largest slum colony of Dharavi in central Mumbai remained a hotspot for virus spread. Across India, Covid cases have been reported from a total of 284 districts out of the total 736.

India meanwhile lifted restrictions on export of some 26 drugs, linked to fever and other ailments, after US president Donald Trump called up PM Modi on Saturday with an SOS. India however responded slowly, in a manner typical to its administrators even in emergency situations, which irritated Trump and led to a US threat of retaliation if the emergency request was not met by New Delhi. India is the leading producer of generic drugs which have a large market in the US and had effected restrictions a month ago in view of the Covid spread.

One of the drugs that the US sought from India was hydroxchroquine, certified by Chinese doctors to be effective in treatment of pneumonia-like conditions. The US request was passed on by PM Modi to a Group of Ministers (GoM) headed by defence minister Rajnath Singh for a decision, which took time. 

COVID TOLL: Covid death toll in India rose to 125 
by Tuesday evening, with the number of infections put at over 4,700.

The final word to ease the restrictions came only on Tuesday, by which time the US lost its patience and issued the threat. After PM Modi, Rajnath Singh is the senior-most minister, who had served as home minister in the previous Modi government, and he is a former chief minister of Uttar Pradesh state.

Japan to announce state of emergency including in capital Tokyo, as coronavirus is spreading in a more serious manner in recent days there.  Singapore, the tiny city state in South Asia region, began a partial lockdown on Tuesday.

Over 74,000 people died of Covid19 around the globe by Tuesday. In the UK, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has been moved to the Intensive Care Unit in the hospital where he was admitted for Covid infection two days ago, as his condition worsened on Monday evening.

In the US, coronavirus infections totaled 3,64,000 on Monday. Germany has over one lakh cases by now, and 1584 deaths. In Italy and Spain, the worse seems to be over, with infection rates/deaths showing a downward trend.

The situation showed steady improvement in China, where no new case of Covid death was reported on Monday. Travel restrictions are likely to be lifted from the key Covid city of Wuhan, where the first case of detection of the infection was reported in December last and from where the virus was likely to have spread to regions across the world.

Among the worst-hit in the present situation would be the aviation. Global tracking agencies say domestic travel would drop from an estimated 14crore in the last fiscal to between 80 and 90 million in FY21. Reports said international travel is likely to halve from around 7crore to 3.6crore in FY21. This would, in sum, mean a lay off of 200 to 250 aircraft on for a few months’ time. 

The lockdown enforced by the Indian government from March 24 to April 14 grounded the entire aircraft operations in the country for the three-week period. Meanwhile, several international aviation firms, including Emirates Airline, has effected a sudden cut in the salaries of the employees. IHN-NN


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