Coronavirus India LIVE news updates:
A testing programme necessary for lifting India’s lockdown would cost less than 2.1 per cent of the lockdown’s economic losses, researchers from India School of Business and Imperial College have found. In another metric, the study found that “a resource-intensive (testing) strategy … corresponds to less than half of the lockdown-caused loss in goods and services tax (GST) revenue.”
The pre-print study states that if 20 per cent of the population has Covid-19 antibodies (known as sero-prevalence) by the time lockdown is lifted, then authorities would need to identify and isolate symptomatic cases within five to eight days of their symptoms to prevent an overwhelmed healthcare capacity.
Cash with public up by Rs 1.63 lakh crore in 2 months
The extension of the lockdown and the rising number of COVID-19 infections seem to have pushed the country towards a more cash-driven economy. Even though state governments have started relaxing retail trade restrictions, the relentless rise in currency with the public is continuing with people taking out cash worth another Rs 39,028 crore during the fortnight ended May 22.
Currency with the public has now risen by Rs 1,63,135 crore from April 1 this year to Rs 25.12 lakh crore as of May 22. According to data released by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) on Wednesday, currency with public has gone up by 18.7 per cent, or Rs 3,95,484 crore, on a year-on-year basis as against Rs 2.63,573 crore, or 14.2 per cent, in the previous year. With the lockdown continuing, people’s reliance on cash is expected to rise further in the next one or two months.
Also, there has been a “significant increase” in reported poaching of wild animals during the lockdown, which is not restricted to any geographical region or state, or to any specific wildlife area, according to a report released by WWF-India Wednesday. The study was carried out by WWF-India’s programme division Traffic, a wildlife trafficking monitoring network.
While reports of poaching incidences for consumption and local trade more than doubled during the lockdown period under study, the report states there was no evidence of stockpiling of wildlife products for future trade.
Railways freight earnings dip by Rs 8,000 crore during lockdown
Meanwhile, hit with the coronavirus outbreak and over two months of lockdown, the Indian Railways has so far suffered a freight earnings shortfall of Rs 8,283 crore when compared to this period last year. Barring foodgrain, the national transporter carried all commodities in its freight basket much less than it did during the corresponding period last year.
Sources said passenger earnings shortfall so far — of April and May — could hover around Rs 9,000 crore by May-end, with all passenger trains suspended since late-March and with only some truncated services running since May 12, over and above the Shramik Special trains.