COVID-19 in India: Latest Updates and Business Advisory

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(This article will be regularly updated. It was last updated June 5, 2020. For previous coverage, see here.)

Coronavirus in India: Regions affected, government policies, and impact on industry

  • New rules were announced yesterday as shopping malls, restaurants, hotels, and places of worship are to reopen Monday. These include measures like staggering visitors and temperature screenings at malls; people need to wear face masks at all times and maintain social distancing. 
  • June 5 – Statistics from Thursday show another daily high as India recorded 9,851 new cases. COVID-19 fatalities were 273; the total death toll coming to 6,348. India has so far recorded a total of 226,770 coronavirus patients. Maharashtra, Delhi, and Tamil Nadu continue to report huge numbers of new cases. The number of active cases has reached 110,960; 109,462 people have recovered (48% of total cases).
  • June 4 – India witnessed another daily jump in its coronavirus count with 9,304 people testing positive in the last 24 hours. The total number of COVID-19 cases reached 216,919; Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, and Delhi continued to record high numbers of new cases yesterday. However, the number of active COVID-19 cases is 106,737, showing a high rate of recovery.
  • The three most affected states are Maharashtra (total of 72,300 cases so far), followed by Tamil Nadu (24,586) and Delhi (22,132). So far, Maharashtra has reported the highest number of fatalities at 2,465, followed by Gujarat (1,092) and Delhi (556).
  • June 3 – India’s total coronavirus count reached 207,615, according to figures released by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. The death toll is now at 5,815. 
    8,909 fresh cases were added on Tuesday and 217 deaths were reported. India now has 101,497 active COVID-19 cases. 
  • The capital Delhi has recorded 20,834 positive cases, with 990 COVID-19 cases registered on Monday. Delhi recorded 50 deaths yesterday, the total death toll is now 523.
  • June 2 – India saw more than 8,000 positive cases for a third straight day. The total number of COVID-19 cases in India now stands at 198,706. The states of Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu have continued to experience spikes in new cases. 204 deaths were recorded yesterday, the highest so far, and the death toll as of this morning’s update was 5,598. India now has 97,581 active cases. 95,526 patients have been cured.
  • Religious places, hotels, restaurants, and malls may be allowed to reopen from June 8. However, international air travel, metro services, cinemas, gyms, swimming pools, entertainment centers and parks, theaters, bars, auditoriums, assembly halls, and similar places where large crowds gather will remain shut.
  • India’s lockdown in containment zones is extended to June 30. Elsewhere the country will open in phases with state governments being delegated increased powers to determine which sectors will open and how economic activity can resume.
  • Nationwide curfew is now relaxed in what is being called Lockdown 5.0; public movement for non-essential activity is now allowed between 5am and 9pm.
  • India is now the seventh worst affected country in the world, overtaking France. The state of Maharashtra added over 2,000 new cases and Delhi had 1,295 people test positive. Tamil Nadu also witnessed a high number of new cases with 1,149 testing positive on Sunday. At the same time, about 48 percent of India’s COVID-19 patients have successfully recovered.
  • June 1 – India records its biggest spike over 24 hours with 8,392 fresh cases of COVID-19. Total cases now 190,535; death toll 5,394. There are 93,322 active cases in the country as per the latest update from the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. 
  • For a  state-wise tally of coronavirus cases in India, see the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare website here.
  • The capital Delhi recorded over 1,024 cases in a day for the first time since the pandemic broke out. The total number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Delhi stood at 16,281 as of Friday morning. After recording 13 deaths yesterday, the death toll in the capital stood at 316.
  • Over 2,500 new confirmed cases were reported in Maharashtra; Mumbai alone saw 1,467 new COVID-19 cases on Thursday.  There are now a total of 59,546 confirmed coronavirus cases in Maharashtra. Fatalities in the state rose to 1,982.
  • May 29 – India experienced its highest jump in fresh cases yesterday (7,466), reporting a total of 165,799 confirmed COVID-19 patients as of Friday morning. The death toll has climbed to 4,706 after 175 deaths were registered Thursday. India is now the ninth worst-affected country by the pandemic.
  • The four worst affected states by reverse migration of laborers are: Uttar Pradesh (2.5 million returning migrant laborers), Bihar (2 million returning migrant laborers), Madhya Pradesh (expecting up to 1.3 million returning migrant laborers), and Jharkhand (expecting up to 1 million returning migrant laborers). The respective state governments are expected to collect data and map skills in the face of this enormous population shift, which will be key to job creation policies. 
  • The capital Delhi has recorded a total of 15,257 confirmed cases so far. Mumbai recorded 1,044 new cases of coronavirus on Wednesday, taking its overall count to 33,835.
  • May 28 – India’s total number of COVID-19 cases increased to 158,333 today, according to the morning update by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. The government estimates that close to 230,000 people are in quarantine in the country. On Wednesday, Maharashtra registered 2,190 new cases while Delhi recorded another spike with 792 fresh cases. The death toll is now 4,531. India has 86,110 active patients with COVID-19. 
  • May 27 – India reported a total of 151,767 confirmed coronavirus cases this morning, with the addition of 6,387 new cases over the last 24 hours. Maharashtra continues to dominate the state-wise case tally but Tamil Nadu is reporting a continued surge of new infections with 600 positive cases recorded on Tuesday. The death toll stood at 4,337 as of the latest update this morning and there were 83,004 active COVID-19 patients in India, according to the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. 
  • May 26 – India reported over 6,500 new COVID-19 cases today, bringing the total confirmed cases to 145,380. There were 80,722 active COVID-19 patients in the country on Monday; 146 deaths were recorded yesterday. The states of Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, and Gujarat followed by Delhi remain the most affected regions. Consequently, India has ramped up its PPE production; it is now producing more than 300,000 PPEs and N95 masks per day.
  • India resumed domestic air travel today but travelers need to monitor for the latest guidelines, such as state-wise protocols depending on the destination and check-in rules as well as track airline cancellations and new compliance requirements. 
  • India’s union health ministry has reported that 11 municipal areas in Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Gujarat, Delhi, Madhya Pradesh, West Bengal, and Rajasthan have recorded 70 percent of all COVID-19 cases in the country. This is due to their high density population (migrant workers, urban slums due to housing crisis) and an overburdened healthcare system.
  • As per the latest update, Maharashtra’s COVID-19 count stood at 50,231 and the death toll rose to 1,635. The state of Tamil Nadu has 16,277 confirmed COVID-19 infections, Gujarat has a total of 14,056, and the capital Delhi has reported a total tally of 13,418 cases.
  • May 25 – After its biggest spike yet in fresh cases, reporting 6,977 new coronavirus infections on Sunday, India has overtaken Iran as the 10th biggest COVID-19 hotspot in the world. The total number of coronavirus cases stood at 138,526 as of the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare’s update Monday morning. 
  • Mumbai’s total confirmed case count has increased to 25,317.
  • In the past week, Bihar, Karnataka, and Madhya Pradesh have reported the highest surge in new positive cases. The state of Punjab reported the most progress as its case tally went from 1,680 confirmed cases on Friday, May 15 to just 170 active cases today.
  • Maharashtra continues to lead the active case tally at 28,462; total confirmed cases 41,642. Following Maharashtra, we have Tamil Nadu (7,591 active cases), Gujarat (6,644 active cases), Delhi (5,898 active cases), and Madhya Pradesh (2,868 active cases) rounding up the top 5 affected states, and accounting for 78 percent of the active cases in the country. 
  • India’s case tally has now roughly doubled over the past 13 days. 
  • May 22 – India’s total confirmed case count reached 118,447 today, as per the latest update from the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. The active case count was 66,330 and the death toll was 3,583, as of Friday morning. India reported 6,000 new cases of COVID-19, showing the biggest 24-hour rise since the pandemic began.
  • India Briefing is examining new business opportunities in existing and emerging industries as COVID-19 disrupts the economy, both, challenging businesses and creating new segments. Digital, contactless systems-based, and agile operations are the most likely to thrive in most sectors as consumer behavior adapts to the new normal. 
    The education market is among those industries that have witnessed sudden and massive shifts in behavior as institutions were asked to shut down during the lockdown and classes continued online. With education being an investment of priority across India, digital apps and platforms have seized the opportunity to expand their user base, offering free access to their in-app selections and use of platforms for classes and lectures for a limited period of time.
    We discuss the new investment opportunities in online education amid COVID-19, which will have a long tail in terms of recovery and resurgence of outbreaks, as well as current revenue models in this piece: Why India’s Education Market Should Excite Foreign Investors.
  • Railways opened bookings today for a list of 200 trains (100 to and fro) to travel from June 1. Tickets can be booked via the IRCTC app / website.
  • The civil aviation ministry is introducing a cap on domestic air fares for 3 months. For example, for the Delhi-Mumbai route, the minimum fare will be INR 3,500 and maximum fare INR 10,000. The government has said domestic flights can commence from May 25, and at one-third capacity till August. Travelers must check with the latest rules to ensure they can avail their booked flights; for instance, only passengers with a confirmed web-check in will be allowed to enter the airport.
  • May 21 – Delhi reported the biggest spike in new confirmed cases at 534, in the last 24 hours, recording a total of 11,088 cases so far. Maharashtra remains the worst-affected state with 39,297 total confirmed cases.
    India recorded an increase of 5,609 new cases yesterday (second consecutive day of reporting over 5,000 cases), pushing India’s total confirmed COVID-19 cases to 112,359. The death toll, as of Thursday morning’s official update, was 3,435 with 132 COVID-related fatalities over the last 24 hours. 
  • India’s domestic flight services will be allowed to resume from Monday, May 25, in a “calibrated manner”, according to the civil aviation ministry. Commercial flights where suspended in the country from March 25.
  • The statutory rate of contribution by employers and employees alike to the Employee Provident Fund will be reduced from 12 percent to 10 percent (of the basic salary and dearness allowance), for the months of May, June, and July. This will increase the in-hand salary but will not impact the employee’s total cost-to-company (CTC). The move is meant to ease liquidity pressures. According to the government, employees can increase their contribution above 10 percent for the next three months but employers will not be required to match that.
  • The state of Maharashtra, which is the worst affected by the coronavirus, released its own guidelines for Lockdown 4.0.
  • May 20 – India reported a record total of 5,611 new cases in the last 24 hours, according to the government’s Wednesday morning update. Total COVID-19 deaths stood at 3,303 with Maharashtra reporting the highest single-day death toll at 63; the state also has the highest number of confirmed cases, which has crossed 37,000. India’s confirmed coronavirus cases increased to a total of 106,750.
  • Mumbai, Maharashtra has reported 21,263 cases as of Tuesday morning. Besides Mumbai, cases spiked in Ahmedabad (Gujarat) with 8,683 confirmed cases; Chennai (Tamil Nadu) with 7,116 confirmed cases; Thane (Maharashtra) with 4,402 confirmed cases; and Pune (Maharashtra) with 4,211 confirmed cases. These 5 districts accounted for 51 percent of India’s confirmed coronavirus cases, according to Livemint.
  • Livemint is reporting that the states of Bihar, Maharashtra, and Madhya Pradesh accounted for 69 percent of all new active cases in the past week. Delhi, Tamil Nadu, and Bihar accounted for 14 percent of all COVID-related deaths in the last 7 days. India suffers from uneven testing and an overburdened healthcare system, which complicates data analysis to predict trends. 
  • May 19 – India’s confirmed COVID-19 cases have risen to a total of 101,139. 67 percent of the new cases were reported in May, and why the nationwide lockdown has been extended yet again. India’s death toll as of Tuesday morning was 3,163. The state of Maharashtra leads the active cases tally at 25,372 followed by Tamil Nadu (7,273 active cases), Gujarat (6,247 active cases), Delhi (5,401 active cases), and Madhya Pradesh (2,549 active cases). These states account for 80 percent of the active cases in the country, which stood at 58,802 this morning.
  • Lockdown 4.0 in Delhi: Meanwhile, in the capital, Delhi, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal announced new and slightly different guidelines to the central government’s announcement.
    As per Delhi government rules, private and public transport in Delhi will be allowed to resume with limitations on the number of passengers due to social distancing. While buses will be able to resume only 20 passengers will be allowed and after screening. Metro services will not resume till May 31.
    Kejriwal also said, “Barber shops, spas and saloons to remain closed for now. Stepping out of homes between 7 pm to 7 am, except for essential services will be prohibited. Taxis and cabs will be allowed but only two passengers at a time in a car. Private offices can open at full strength but they should try that most of the staff works from home. Markets can open but shops will open on odd-even basis. Sports complexes and stadiums can open but without spectators.” Kejriwal also confirmed that construction activity can begin again in the city but the workers must be based in Delhi.
  • Lockdown 4.0 in Karnataka: Chief Minister B.S. Yediyurappa announced today that the state of Karnataka is allowing all four of its state transport corporation buses to operate starting tomorrow, except in the red zones and containment zones. Further, most economic activities can resume in green/orange zones, such as re-opening shops and the movement of trains within the state. However, some restrictions remain – only 30 people can travel in a bus, everyone must wear masks, and social distancing must be observed. Malls and shopping complexes will remain shut. Park will be allowed to open between 7am to 9am and between 5pm to 7pm. On Sundays, there will be a total lockdown across the state.
  • The five worst affected states in India are: Maharashtra (33,053 cases), Gujarat (11,379 cases), Tamil Nadi (11,224), Delhi (10,054), and Rajasthan (5,202). As of the government’s morning briefing on Monday, India has reported a total of 96,169 confirmed cases, of which there were 26,824 recovered patients, and 3,029 deaths. 
  • May 18 – Lockdown in India has been extended for the third time, as Lockdown 4.0, starting May 18 for two weeks till May 31.
  • The ICMR (Indian Council of Medical Research), the apex body in India for the formulation, coordination and promotion of biomedical research, has issued guidance on rapid antibody test kits for COVID-19 and listed their manufacturers. Two of the Chinese firms on that list have since had their importer licenses cancelled by India’s regulatory body, Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation, after kits supplied showed wide-variation under field conditions. ICMR has noted that rapid antibody tests are not recommended for diagnosis of COVID-19. 10 of the antibody-based rapid testing kits are manufactured in India.
  • Meanwhile, Gujarat’s Ahmedabad is reporting the country’s highest mortality rate at 6.7 percent, above the national average of 4 percent.
  • Tamil Nadu’s higher tally may also be because of its higher rate of testing. In this regard, the state’s health minister, C. Vijayabaskar, briefed that Tamil Nadu “has taken up aggressive testing, and accounts for the highest number of testing facilities. The number of laboratories has increased to 58 — 38 in the government and 20 in the private sector — today.”
  • Tamil Nadu overtook Gujarat in the tally of COVID-19 infections, but The Hindu has been reporting that it is the first time in 10 days that new cases have been below the 500 mark and that its capital, Chennai, accounts for about 80 percent of COVID-19 cases. The paper notes, “Of the 447 (253 male and 194 female) new patients, 22 persons, who had returned from Maharashtra, tested positive for the infection in five districts.” 
  • May 15 – India now has 81,970 confirmed cases, of which 51,401 cases are active and 27,920 recovered. There have been 2,649 fatalities recorded so far. The worst affected states are: Maharashtra (27,524 cases), Tamil Nadu (9,674 cases), Gujarat (9,591), Delhi (8,470 cases), and Rajasthan (4,534 cases).
  • India’s railways have suspended all passenger train services till June 30, except for the Shramik Special services and the 30 special trains. All ticket bookings till June 30 have been cancelled and will be fully refunded.
  • The worst affected regions are: Maharashtra (19,400 active cases), Tamil Nadu (6,987 active cases), Gujarat (5,139 active cases), Delhi (5,034 active cases), and Madhya Pradesh (1,937 active cases). This means the top five states make up for close to 80 percent of all current COVID-19 infections in India.
  • India’s COVID-19 hotspots are in its urban affluent regions, as richer states have recorded disproportionately higher numbers of confirmed cases.
  • The morning update of the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare reported that India’s COVID-19 total rose to 78,003 cases. India’s infection count and death toll is rising faster this month. The death toll stood at 2,549 this morning, which is roughly double the figure from 11 days ago. 
  • According to Livemint, India’s total confirmed cases tally will exceed China’s reported total by Friday, given the current rate of local transmission. Mumbai (15,699), Thane (3,065), Pune (3,301) in Maharashtra; Chennai (5,268) in Tamil Nadu; and Ahmedabad in Gujarat (6,645) account for 49 percent of all newly confirmed COVID-19 cases over the past 48 hours. 
  • Local media are reporting that Indian IT and financial services firms have been reorganizing their office properties by deferring new leases and favoring an extended work from home strategy.
  • May 14 – Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman is now releasing the second tranche of the government’s special economic package. Of note are announcements that regional disparity in minimum wages will be removed and social security measures will be extended to gig workers. The announcements in the second tranche are focused on relief for migrant workers, street vendors, self-employed people, and small farmers.
  • Some clarifications on the TDS reduction announced in the first tranche: though tax deducted at source or TDS is charged on salary income, it has been clarified that the relief in the form of lower TDS has not been extended to salaried individuals.
    Also, those who can avail the TDS/ TCS reductions must provide their Aadhaar Card and PAN details. The reduction is also only applicable to Indian residents. (The TDS rate range from 1% to 30% based on income source and the TCS rate ranges between 0.10% and 5%.)
  • India is extending its tax audit deadline from September 30, 2020 to October 31, 2020.
  • Besides the focus on MSMEs, the finance minister made some of the following announcements:
    – On real estate, the Ministry of Urban Development will issue advisory to the states and union territories so that regulators can invoke force majeure to provide for a six month extension for completion of contractual obligations if the project was registered on or after March 25, 2020.
    – A reduction of 25 percent on the Tax Deducted at Source (TDS) and Tax Collected at Source (TCS) from May 14, 2020 to March 31, 2021.
    – The deadline for all income tax return filings will be extended from July 31, 2020 to November 30, 2020.
    – The Vivaad se Vishwas scheme, addressing disputes on indirect tax payments, has been extended till December 31, 2020.
    – All pending refunds to charitable trusts and non-corporate businesses and professions, including proprietorship, partnership, LLP and co-operatives to be issued immediately.
  • Other announcements to benefit MSMEs include: 
    – Collateral free loan of INR 3 trillion (US$39.84 billion) for MSMEs. This will benefit 4.5 million units so that they can resume work and save jobs.
    – For stressed MSMEs, subordinate debt provision of INR 200 billion (US$2.65 billion) has been announced for 200,000 MSMEs.
    – Equity infusion worth INR 500 billion (US$6.6 billion) through special fund for MSMES that have viable operations but need handholding due to COVID-19.
    – A fund of funds with corpus of INR 100 billion (US$1.3 billion) will be set aside to assist the capacity expansion of these units, including enabling them to get listed on the market should they choose that.
    – Global tenders not allowed for government procurement of up to INR 2 billion (US$26.5 million).
    – To compensate for cancelled trade fairs, the Indian government will set up online market linkages.
    – Statutory provident fund contributions for all private sector organizations and their employees covered by the EPFO will be reduced to 10 percent from 12 percent.
  • The definition of who qualifies as a micro, small, and medium-sized enterprise (MSME) in India has changed based on investment and turnover. The new definition will apply to both manufacturing and services MSMEs in India.
    – Enterprises with investment up to INR 10 million, turnover up to INR 50 million are defined as micro units.
    – Enterprises with investment up to INR 100 million, turnover up to INR 500 million are defined as small units.
    – Enterprises can qualify as medium-sized units if they have investment upto INR 200 million, turnover up to INR 1 billion. 
  • In her first tranche of announcements, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman focused on the revival of the MSME sector.
  • In his special address last night, the fifth since March, Prime Minister Modi made certain that the lockdown will not completely end on May 17. However, given his meeting with chief ministers of various states this week, Modi assured that the Lockdown 4.0 will be different. This would likely put the onus on the state governments to administer based on their COVID-19 outbreak patterns, with relaxations in areas not considered hotspots and continued restrictions in red zones and containment clusters. Social distancing, wearing masks etc. will continue to be enforced as India will need to learn to live with the virus for a long time, public health experts have warned. We can expect the new rules of Lockdown 4.0 before May 18, Modi said yesterday.
  • As of Tuesday midnight, Delhi had reported 359 new cases and 20 new deaths. The total tally in the capital is now 7,998. As per the Delhi government, the total number of tests conducted has crossed 100,000. At around 5,200 tests per million people, this is the highest in the country.
  • With 426 new cases, the coronavirus tally in Mumbai was at 14,781 as of Tuesday. 
  • The state tally in Maharashtra rose to 24,427 as it continues to be the worst-affected region in India. The state has introduced an online OPD (out-patient department) system called e-Sanjivani OPD as many private clinics have stopped functioning. The online OPD service will be available from 9.30am to 1.30pm and is closed on Sundays; it is a joint venture between the state and federal health authorities. Maharashtra reported 1,026 new cases on Tuesday; the death toll standing at 921. Consequently, there are 1,289 active cluster containment zones in the state currently. 281,655 people are reportedly in home quarantine and 15,627 people have been placed in institutional quarantine.
  • 6 more cases have been recorded in Noida (Gautam Buddha Nagar district), the manufacturing and IT hub in Uttar Pradesh that is part of the Delhi National Capital Region, taking the total tally to 230. So far, 3 fatalities have been reported in the district due to COVID-19 linked complications as of May 12.
  • The city of Hyderabad in Telangana state remains a red zone as 116 people tested positive in 2 days, including 51 new cases confirmed Tuesday. The total state tally is 1,326 confirmed cases, 32 deaths. 
  • The COVID-19 tally differs drastically across India’s states and understandably appears to be concentrated in major business and economic hubs.  
  • India’s coronavirus case count rose to 74,281 (including 47,480 active cases and 24,386 cases that were cured or patients migrated). There have been 2,415 deaths recorded. 
  • Alongside Modi’s calls for a self-reliant India, the prime minister is keen to attract greater foreign investment, including the relocation of foreign enterprises that maybe moving out of China. The trade ministry is currently considering proposals on structuring tax holidays for foreign companies making investments between US$100 million to US$500 million, respectively. India Briefing will be tracking the proposals and will provide timely analysis if it comes through. Recently, the federal government announced it was looking to set aside major land areas for foreign companies seeking to relocate out of China, which we covered in this piece: How to Read India’s Pitch to Foreign Investors Looking to Shift Out of China.
  • As we await Finance Minister Sitharaman’s details on the prime minister’s economic package, it will be key to remember this isn’t a pure financial stimulus. Reforms-based spending will likely be a major chunk of the package given Modi’s assertion that he is seeking bold reforms in land, labor, liquidity, and laws. The stimulus may also get announced in stages so as to temper the fiscal impact. 
  • Modi’s package amounts to 10 percent of India’s GDP, and will include the previous stimulus of INR 1.7 trillion (about US$22 billion) as well as liquidity easing measures announced by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI). In his address, the prime minister said the stimulus was meant to help the working class (laborers), farmers, MSMEs, and the middle class. Since the economic package was themed around a Self-Reliant India, Modi invoked the need for Indians to start buying more local brands – touting the success of India’s personal protective equipment (PPE) industry. “When the crisis began, not a single PPE was being manufactured in India. N-95 masks were being manufactured in negligible quantity. Today, the situation is such that India is manufacturing 2 lakh [200,000] PPE kits and N95 masks each per day. We are able to do so because India has turned a crisis into an opportunity. India’s vision to convert this crisis into an opportunity is going to prove influential as we become more self-reliant,” Modi said. It will be interesting to see whether measures will be announced to support India’s local manufacturing capacity in the near term beyond the tax cuts announced last year meant to boost sunrise industries as MSMEs have been facing a liquidity crunch for some time now (following the 2016 demonetization, GST transition costs since 2017, and various compliance-linked pressures).
  • May 13 – Prime Minister Modi announced a INR 20 trillion (US$270 billion) stimulus package in his special address yesterday, the details of which will be put forth by the Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman today at 4pm IST.
  • Like all affected countries implementing virus-control measures, India now faces the challenge of restarting its normal economic activity while at the same time maintaining public health best practices like social distancing, personal hygiene, and wearing masks. The challenge is aggravated by India’s economic situation and the danger of public fatigue setting in.
  • The COVID-19 tally in the capital, Delhi, is 7,233 confirmed cases. As of Monday, the tally in India’s financial capital, Mumbai (Maharashtra state) stood at 14,355 confirmed cases.
  • On Tuesday, India’s tally of confirmed COVID-19 cases crossed reached 70,756, according to the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. The number of active patients in the country are at 46,008; nearly 31 percent have recovered, as reported by Livemint. Maharashtra remains the worst affected state (23,401 confirmed cases), adding over 1,000 cases in 24 hours for the sixth consecutive day. The state of Tamil Nadu witnessed a spike in new cases with 800 new people testing positive in the last 24 hours; the surge in cases have been attributed by state authorities to the “state’s aggressive testing policy”. 
  • May 12 – Prime Minister Modi will be addressing the country at 8pm IST today. This comes after his meeting with Chief Ministers yesterday discussing the lockdown strategy.
  • The Indian Railways tweets: “As per MHA [Ministry of Home Affairs] guidelines, on arrival at their destination, the travelling passengers will have to adhere to such health protocols as are prescribed by the destination state / Union Territory…” Passengers are therefore advised to track which risk level has been assigned to the destination area and what protocols need to be observed in terms of health, hygiene, and safety practices.
  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi will be chairing his fifth meeting with India’s chief ministers today; on the cards will be a discussion on India’s lockdown end date, May 17. Meanwhile, the federal government has sent support teams to 10 states, including Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, and Delhi to assist their governments in managing the outbreak.
  • Limited train services will resume starting Tuesday, May 12, the Indian Railways announced late on Sunday. 
    Some 30 train journeys, which includes 15 pairs of return trips, will run from the capital Delhi to other cities, such as Mumbai, Bangalore, and Chennai. “It will be mandatory for the passengers to wear face cover and undergo screening at departure and only asymptomatic passengers will be allowed to board the train.”
    More than 20 million passengers use the railways daily in India and services were halted in late March, when the country went under lockdown. This has caused enormous stress to the rural migrant labor population across the country, who lost their jobs in the cities where they worked but were unable to return to their home states due to the virus-control measures.
  • The top seven worst-affected regions are: Maharashtra state (22,171 confirmed cases), Gujarat state (8,194 cases), Tamil Nadu state (7,204 confirmed cases), Delhi (6,923 reported cases), Rajasthan state (3,814), Madhya Pradesh state (3,614), and Uttar Pradesh state (3,467). The death toll is the highest in Maharashtra – 832, followed by Gujarat at 493.
  • On Monday, India reported 4,213 newly confirmed coronavirus cases – the highest increase recorded in the country over 24 hours. This takes the total count to 67,152. India also reported its highest recovery rate – 1,559 coronavirus patients were cured of the infection in the last 24 hours, according to the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. Thus far, 20,916 patients have been cured and discharged and one has migrated.
  • May 11 – India is now in its last week under (the 54-day) lockdown, set to end May 17, 2020.
  • More updates coming in from Ahmedabad, where on Thursday, Cadila Pharmaceuticals, one of India’s largest privately held pharmaceutical companies had to shut down its formulations manufacturing plant after more than two dozen employees tested positive for coronavirus. According to reporting from News18: “A senior government official said late on Thursday that five employees had tested positive for COVID-19 six days back, while 21 others tested positive this week.”
  • From Saturday, May 9, a complete lockdown will be enforced in the city of Surat, a commercial center in south Gujarat, which has reported more than 750 cases.
  • Ahmedabad is under a hard lockdown from Thursday midnight; the urgent need to prevent the outbreak from spiraling has resulted in the city administration seeing major changes to its bureaucracy. Para-military forces will patrol Ahmedabad to ensure only milk and medicine shops are open for a week and social distancing rules are rigorously enforced.
  • Gujarat state added 388 new positive cases on Thursday, taking its total tally to 7,013.
  • NDTV is reporting that till Wednesday evening, Ahmedabad (capital of Gujarat state) had 4,425 COVID-19 cases, the bulk of the state’s total tally of 6,625 cases. With 273 deaths, the mortality rate in Ahmedabad is 6.1 percent, which is about double the national average of around 3.3 percent.
  • May 8 – On Friday, the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare’s daily update shows Maharashtra is the worst affected state in India, accounting for about one-third of all confirmed cases at over 17,000 cases. Mumbai and Pune are the worst affected cities in Maharashtra. India’s current lockdown ends in 10 days, but may very well get extended at least in the red zones.
    The total tally of reported COVID-19 cases in India has reached 56,342.
  • E-commerce companies are observing high demand of non-essential items but cannot recoup losses unless the red zones open up, which record the highest demand. India’s major metropolitan cities are now categorized as red zones, showing the highest number of active cases. E-commerce platforms have reported a high demand for air conditioners, smart gadgets, personal grooming equipment like trimmers, and kitchen appliances; this is understandable as India has been under lockdown since late March and work-from-home continues into the summer season.
  • The Indian embassy in the US has notified that 7 special flights will operate from May 9 to repatriate Indians stuck in the US. Given the limited seats available, the names of passengers will be picked through a computerized selector.
  • The doubling time in Delhi is now 11 days, as compared to 15 days on May 2, according to the Delhi health minister, Satyendar Jain. Confirmed cases in India’s capital stands at 5,532, of which 428 cases were added on Wednesday.
  • India’s financial capital, Mumbai (the capital of Maharashtra state), reported 10,714 cases after 769 cases were recorded on Wednesday, its highest single-day jump in tally; the death toll is now 412. 
  • The western state of Maharashtra has the highest number of active cases at 13,013, followed by Gujarat (4,729), Delhi (3,925), Tamil Nadu (3,278), and Madhya Pradesh (1,854).
  • Data analysis from Livemint indicates that “the number of cases has gone up by 25 percent between Monday morning and Thursday morning”.
  • May 7 – The number of confirmed coronavirus infections has now crossed 50,000 to reach 52,952 cases, according to this morning’s update of the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW). The active case count, as of Thursday morning, was 35,902; 15,267 patients have recovered and the death toll is at 1,783.
  • May 6 – India’s tally of confirmed coronavirus cases has reached 49,390, with 2,958 fresh coronavirus cases registered in the last 24 hours. India’s death toll stands at 1,694 with 126 deaths reported Tuesday. The states of Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Gujarat, and capital Delhi continue to report the highest numbers. The state-wise tally can be noted here
  • For a second day in a row the southern state of Kerala reported zero coronavirus cases. The state has been appreciated worldwide for its organized response to the outbreak from implementing quarantine measures, migrant worker management, and conducting widespread testing to the implementation of lockdown measures; it was one of the first Indian states to register cases (involving travelers from abroad) and combat a spike in cases.
  • India’s business center, Mumbai, has recorded 9,123 positive coronavirus cases. It is the capital city of the western state of Maharashtra, which is the only Indian state at present to record more than 10,000 positive cases. The total number of COVID-19 patients in Maharashtra is now 14,541, according to the ministry of health and family welfare.
  • The national capital, Delhi, reported 349 new positive cases on Monday, taking the total number of confirmed COVID-19 cases to 4,898. Of these, there are 3,403 active cases, according to the Delhi Health Department.
  • The number of containment zones in the eastern state of West Bengal rose sharply Monday to 516 compared to 348 on April 28. Most of the containment zones are in its capital, Kolkata – 318, which is 91 more containment zones than last week.
  • Since some of the relaxations in the new phase of the lockdown include the opening of standalone liquor stores – states in India fear long queues and failure of social distancing guidelines. Accordingly, at least three regions – Delhi, West Bengal state and Andhra Pradesh state – have hiked costs. For example, starting Tuesday, May 5, the Delhi government is charging a 70 percent extra tax on liquor – labeling the new tax “special corona fee”. Andhra Pradesh has hiked prices by 25 percent, West Bengal is charging a 30 percent additional sales tax.
  • May 5 – Total cases in India reached 46,433 with the death toll at 1,568. This comes after India recorded its highest single-day peak in the number of confirmed coronavirus patients and deaths linked to the infection – 3,900 new COVID-19 cases were confirmed, and 195 patients died in the last 24 hours. At the same time, lockdown restrictions have eased in many parts of India as it enters into the third phase of the nationwide shutdown, which originally began March 25, 2020.
  • The Aarogya Setu App (Bluetooth-based COVID-19 tracker) is now made mandatory for all employees (both government and private sector employees) in India as a part of the country’s contact tracing efforts.
    The smartphone application gathers user location data and personal details to form a network of information about the potential spread of the virus. Users need to input the following details: the name, phone number, profession, gender, age, and a list of countries visited in the past 30 days. Given its massive surveillance capability, and the fact that it is being operated by a third-party private operator, the app has attracted significant criticism. In fact, it was initially voluntary before becoming mandatory for government employees followed by the private sector.
  • According to media reports, the latest government guidelines recommend that some establishments / services may resume from May 3, although with restrictions in place. A few of these are mentioned below:
    1) All three zones, except containment areas – outdoor patient departments (OPDs) at hospitals and clinics can reopen but must implement strict social distancing norms and precautions.
    Industrial establishments in urban areas, such as special economic zones (SEZs), export-oriented units (EOUs), industrial estates, and industrial townships with access control.
    2) Red zones – private offices can operate but up to 33 percent strength only, rest must work from home.
    3) Orange zones – taxi and cab aggregators (carrying up to 2 passengers only) have been allowed.
    4) Green zones – all activities allowed except for those specifically prohibited.
    5) Green and orange zones – barber shops, spas, and salons will be allowed to reopen from today and e-commerce sales of non-essential items can restart only in these two zones. 
    6) Delhi stationery shops, standalone and neighborhood shops and residential lane shops for both essential and non-essential services, and self-employed workers like technicians, plumbers, electricians, and household help.
    7) Maharashtra state – Standalone liquor shops, cabs with two passengers at maximum, and e-commerce deliveries for essential items (none of this is allowed to open in containment zones).
    8) UP state – Liquor shops (standalone), industries with 1-hour gaps between shifts, buses and cabs at 50 percent occupancy levels (all of this is recommended for green zones only).
    9) Kerala state – Government staff working at 50 percent attendance (Group A and B levels), 33 percent attendance (Group C and D levels); in green zones, shops can open from 7 am to 7.30 pm for 6 days in the week with Sundays closed.
  • The guidelines for the second extension of the lockdown period offers considerable relaxations, indicating the government is seeking to stagger the resumption of normal economic activity, while at the same time ensuring strict observance of social distancing norms. All activities remain prohibited in containment zones and the suspension of travel by flight, metro, and bus will continue.
  • The movement of all individuals for non-essential activities in all three zones (green, orange, red) is banned from 7 pm to 7 am. Movement will only be allowed between 7 am and 7 pm. All movement is prohibited in containment zones.
  • Starting May 4, India is entering the third period of its nationwide lockdown, which has been extended for a second time for two weeks. (Previously – on March 25, the government invoked the Disaster Management Act, 2005 and imposed a 21-day nationwide lockdown to prevent the spread of COVID-19 until April 14. On April 14, Prime Minister Narendra Modi extended the nationwide lockdown until May 3.)
  • May 4 – The total number of coronavirus cases in India has reached 42,533 and the death toll has climbed to 1,373 with 72 deaths recorded in the last 24 hours. The national capital, Delhi, which is a red zone, witnessed a steep rise in new cases with 427 people testing positive for COVID-19 on Sunday. Delhi’s total number of confirmed cases has reached 4,549, with 64 COVID-19-related deaths recorded so far. 25 percent of all active cases were recorded in the last 3 days. Livemint provides an easy breakdown of the numbers across India’s states.
  • The federal government has also announced that districts falling in the green and orange zones will benefit from considerable relaxations. “Green Zones will be districts with either zero confirmed cases till date; or, no confirmed case in the last 21 days,” while “the classification of districts as Red Zones will take into account the total number of active cases, doubling rate of confirmed cases, extent of testing and surveillance feedback from the districts.” 
  • India has extended its lockdown for two weeks, starting May 4; the country is currently under a 40-day lockdown that was set to end May 3.
  • Uttar Pradesh (UP) state has 19 red zones, Maharashtra state has 14 red zones, Tamil Nadu state has 12, and all of Delhi’s 11 districts have been marked as red zones.
    a) The red zones among Delhi’s suburbs (national capital territory) include: Faridabad (Haryana state), Gautam Buddha Nagar (UP state).
    b) The orange zones among Delhi’s suburbs are: Gurgaon (Haryana state) and Ghaziabad (UP state).
    c) All of Mumbai’s suburban areas are classified as red zones (Maharashtra state).
    d) Both Bengaluru urban and rural areas as well as Mysuru have been classified as red zones (Karnataka state).
  • India’s federal government is designating all major metropolitan cities – Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Kolkata, Hyderabad, Bengaluru, and Ahmedabad – as red zones after the nationwide lockdown ends on May 3. States and local governments have been asked to draw out containment zones and strictly monitor movement in buffer areas. For example, Gurgaon, a major business hub in the north Indian state of Haryana, cracked down on enforcement today, with stricter restrictions on the entry of people from outside the district.
  • India’s 40-day-nationwide lockdown is set to end May 3, Sunday.
  • May 1 – India’s confirmed cases of the COVID-19 coronavirus reached 35,365 today; 1,993 tested positive in the last 24 hours. The death toll is now 1,154. Five states account for over 70 percent of active cases: Maharashtra, Gujarat, Delhi, Madhya Pradesh, and Uttar Pradesh. According to reporting from the Livemint, half of all the new cases recorded are in the cities of Mumbai and Thane (Maharashtra state), Ahmedabad (Gujarat state), Chennai (Tamil Nadu state), and the national capital of New Delhi.

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India Briefing is produced by Dezan Shira & Associates. The firm assists foreign investors throughout Asia from offices across the world, including in Delhi and Mumbai. Readers may write to india@dezshira.com for business support in India.

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