New Delhi: The Union health ministry, on Friday, said the new coronavirus, Covid-19, infection rate in the country has almost halved since the Centre announced a nationwide lockdown from March 25. The ministry said the doubling rate of positive cases was now down to 6.2 days, compared to 3 before the imposition of the lockdown.
On Thursday, the Indian Council of Medical Research has said that India was carrying out adequate tests for Covid-19 infections in the country.
Meanwhile, the Indian Council of Medical Research said the virus has not shown any sign of mutation. However, the ICMR also said three strains of the virus have been detected in the country, so far. Dr RR Gangakhedkar, ICMR’s head of epidemiology and infectious diseases, said while this will have no bearing on the efficacy of a drug, as and when it is developed, it may affect the efficacy of a vaccine.
RBI extends ₹1 lakh crore to NBFCs, financial institutions
On Friday, the Reserve Bank of India sought to keep the business and small non-bank lenders floating during the extended lockdown period by making funds available for non-banking finance companies. It also allowed banks to delay marking stressed borrowers as defaulters. Additionally, it also made it less profitable for banks to keep money idle with RBI by reducing the reverse repo rate by 25 basis point. Reverse repo rate is the rate the RBI pays banks for funds parked with it.
The RBI governor, Shaktikanta Das, before announcing the new lifeline package, vowed to do “whatever it takes” to reduce the adverse impact on the economy due to the coronavirus pandemic. While announcing the extension of a ₹1 lakh crore lifeline, Das said, “Based on our continuing assessment of the macroeconomic situation and financial market conditions, we propose to take further measures to maintain adequate liquidity in the system and its constituents in the face of covid-19 related dislocations; facilitate and incentivize bank credit flows; ease financial stress; and enable the normal functioning of markets.”
Friday’s measures included a ₹50,000 crore refinance facility to banks for lending to NBFCs through a new targeted long-term repo lending operation, ₹50,000 crore funding support for refinance institutions, and reducing rates on bank funds parked with RBI. The focused liquidity support is intended to avert a crisis in the NBFC sector where lenders had granted moratorium to their borrowers but were not granted any relief on their financial obligations. Finance companies, in turn, have been allowed to relax norms for commercial real estate projects to facilitate their completion.
The RBI is also providing a ₹50,000 crore special refinance facility for financial institutions. Out of this, ₹25,000 crore will go to National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development for refinancing regional rural banks, cooperative banks and micro-financiers; ₹15,000 crore to Small Industries Development Bank of India for refinancing; and ₹10,000 crore to National Housing Board for supporting housing lenders.
The RBI also banned banks and cooperative banks from paying dividend from Fiscal Year 2019-20 profits and said the ban will be reviewed after taking the financial position of banks into consideration at the end of the second quarter of the current fiscal year.
Latest coronavirus situation in India and world
Meanwhile, the coronavirus cases in India has now crossed 14,000 with 922 fresh infections in the last 24 hours. The death toll from infection has now approaching 500. The number of global infections has crossed 2.2 million and the virus has claimed over 150,000 lives, so far.
Latest coronavirus India stats:
- Confirmed: 14,352
- Deaths: 486
- Recovered: 2,041
Latest worldwide coronavirus stats:
- Confirmed: 2,242,868
- Deaths: 154,142
- Recovered: 569,270
Top 5 countries with coronavirus infections:
- United States: 701,131
- Spain: 190,839
- Italy: 172,434
- France: 149,130
- Germany: 141,397
Top 5 countries with coronavirus deaths are:
- United States: 36,997
- Italy: 22,745
- Spain: 20,002
- France: 18,703
- United Kingdom: 14,607
[Source: Johns Hopkins University & Medicine]
[This story was last updated at 7.45am on April 18, 2020.]