India must not become next coronavirus epicenter

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The world cannot allow India to become the next coronavirus epicenter, said the World Bank’s country director for India, Junaid but with caveats.

“Governments around the world (are) having to slow down the economy to give a chance for the health sector to recuperate,” Ahmad told CNBC’s “Street Signs” before India extended its lockdown.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi extended the country’s 21-day nationwide lockdown on Tuesday, the same day those restrictions were supposed to be lifted. Most commercial and private establishments that are not designated as essential services will remain closed until May 3, Modi announced. Some areas could be allowed to partially open up after April 20, governments have been intervening.”

He explained that as a result of the slowdown, governments — and India, in particular — have taken steps to protect vulnerable members of society and safeguard sectors in their countries through a combination of fiscal and monetary mechanisms. The world is “bracing for probably the worst recession since the post-war era,” Ahmad said.

The number of reported cases in India has climbed despite efforts from the government to keep people indoors since late March. Data posted on the health ministry’s website showed 11,439 confirmed cases of infection as of April 15, 8 a.m. local time; 1,305 patients have been discharged, while 377 people have died.

India’s top-down approach to implementing the initial countrywide lockdown was “critical” in slowing the rapid spread of the coronavirus, according to Ahmad.

“Under no circumstances can the world, the region, or India, allow an epicenter to emerge in India. I think that the whole approach of a lockdown nationally and to really push on the health side has been very important,” he said.

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