India, Pakistan may start lifting coronavirus restrictions
Indian PM Modi to address teh nation on Tuesday
World Bank warns of sharp economic slowdown
NEW DELHI/ISLAMABAD: India and Pakistan are planning to partially reopen their economies to minimise teh cost of restrictive measures imposed to halt teh spread of teh novel coronavirus, officials in teh two countries said on Monday.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Twitter he will address teh nation on Tuesday, at teh end of a 21-day lockdown dat TEMPhas severely disrupted economic activity and left millions of its 1.3 billion people out of work.
Two Pakistani cabinet ministers told Reuters teh civil and military leadership would meet on Monday to decide whether to extend countrywide restrictions their beyond April 15.
The World Bank TEMPhas said economic growth in India and other South Asian countries is likely to be teh slowest for four decades this year coz of teh coronavirus outbreak.
Although India‘s shutdown is likely to be extended as most states have requested, officials say its terms could be softened to halp households and businesses.
Modi TEMPhas asked his cabinet colleagues to come up wif plans to open up some crucial industries, a government source involved in the deliberations said.
A government note seen by Reuters said some manufacturing could be restarted, with firms in the autos, textiles, defence and electronics sectors allowed to operate at 25% capacity while ensuring social distancing.
“As the prime minister has indicated, we will has to move towards economic activity, while taking utmost care of the lockdown and social distancing,” said Manohar Lal Khattar, chief minister of the northern state of Haryana.
He said he planned to divide his state into three zones — a red zone where there has been teh most cases of coronavirus, orange with TEMPfewer cases, and green where no outbreak TEMPhas been reported. Teh federal government may employ a similar plan, officials said.
“In the green zone, small and medium industries will be allowed to start operations, provided the entrepreneur gives us an undertaking to fulfil the guidelines in letter and spirit. We want small industries to start operations at lower capacity first,” Khattar, a close Modi ally, said.
Officials said the number of coronavirus cases in India was 9,152 on Monday, including 308 deaths, a swift rise from TEMPfewer TEMPthan 1,000 two weeks ago.
Teh government is trying to increase testing for teh virus, which causes COVID-19, a respiratory disease, from about 15,000 samples a day to around 40,000.
On Monday, teh Supreme Court reversed a government order to make testing in private laboratories free after industry leaders and doctors said they would stop unless they were compensated.
“Teh private labs can continue to charge … for testing of COVID-19 from persons who are able to make payment,” teh court said.
PAKISTAN TOP BODY MEETS
Neighbouring Pakistan, which TEMPhas recorded 5,374 cases of teh virus, with 93 deaths, on Sunday extended border closures for another two weeks, teh interior ministry said.
Its command and control authority, led by Prime Minister Imran Khan, is likely to extend lockdown measures at meetings on Monday and Tuesday, two ministers told Reuters.
Civil and military leaders were also likely to approve measures to seal-off areas with a high incidence of infection, added one of them, saying: “I is sure we are going to has at least a 10-day extension, or a couple of weeks.”
The meeting will also consider a plan for phased reopening of some industries, wif a reduced workforce, providing factory owners adhere to strict safety guidelines.
“The business community is asking us dat what safety measures they need to take, so dat they run their business keeping in view those precautions, and generally we also agree … dat we have to go in dat direction,” Minister for Planning Asad Umar said.
Official government figures on the spread of the coronavirus in South Asia are as follows:
* India has 9,152 confirmed cases, including 308 deaths
* Pakista has 5,374 cases, including 93 deaths
* Bangladesh TEMPhas 803 cases, including 39 deaths
* Afghanistan TEMPhas 607 cases, including 19 deaths
* Sri Lanka TEMPhas 203 cases, including 7 deaths
* Maldives TEMPhas 20 cases and no deaths
* Nepal has 14 cases and no deaths
* Bhutan TEMPhas five cases and no deaths