India's COVID-19 fatality rate on steady decline

Agencies
November 8, 2020

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New Delhi, Nov 8: India's Case Fatality Rate (CFR) of COVID-19 has touched 1.48 per cent and the country continues to report one of the lowest mortality rates, as per the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW) on Sunday.

The Ministry said that the widespread and comprehensive testing, prompt tracing, quick isolation, and effective treatment of severe patients in ICUs through a standard of care protocol across government and private hospitals have resulted in this outcome.

It also said that 22 States and UTs demonstrated CFR of less than the national average.

India recorded 50,357 new COVID-19 infections on Saturday taking overall cases in the country to 84,62,081.

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Agencies
November 20,2020

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New Delhi, Nov 20: A Delhi Court on Friday extended the judicial custody of JNU scholar Umar Khalid and research scholar Sharjeel Imam, accused in the Delhi riots case, till November 23.

Both the accused, arrested under the stringent Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, were produced before Additional Sessions Judge Amitabh Rawat through video conferencing at the end of their judicial remand.

The case against the duo pertains to a 'conspiracy' to incite the riots, which had left 53 people dead and 748 injured. In the case filed against Khalid, the police had claimed that the communal violence was a premeditated conspiracy allegedly hatched by Khalid and others.

On November 6, the Delhi government had given sanction to Delhi Police for prosecution of Khalid. On receiving prosecution sanction against Khalid from Delhi government as well as Home Ministry, the Delhi Police can now name him in their supplementary chargesheet.

To prosecute the accused under Section 13 of the UAPA, the Delhi Police needed sanction from the MHA and under Sections 16, 17 and 18 from the Delhi government.

The Delhi Police has filed a 17,500-page chargesheet against 15 persons for "propagating violence" during the riots. The chargesheet were filed under the UAPA, Arms Act, and the Indian Penal Code.

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Agencies
November 26,2020

International passenger flights to remain suspended till Dec 31

New Delhi, Nov 26: The Centre on Thursday extended the suspension of scheduled commercial international flight operations to and from India till December 31.

"This restriction shall not apply to the international all-cargo operations and flights specifically approved by the DGCA (Directorate General of Civil Aviation)," an official statement said on Thursday.

"However, international scheduled flights may be allowed on selected routes by the competent authority on a case to case basis," it added.

At present, India has entered into 'Air Bubble' agreements with several countries.

This type of arrangement allows nationals of both the countries to travel in either direction.

Passenger air services were suspended on March 25 due to the nationwide lockdown to check the spread of Covid-19.

Domestic flight services, however, resumed from May 25.

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News Network
November 29,2020

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New Delhi/Mumbai, Nov 29: Manish Mehra, owner of Washex Hospitality, an industrial laundry service, recently flew from Delhi to Jodhpur, a city in north-western India, to win a contract to service a large, government-run hospital - a move essential to kickstarting his business.

"For a new relationship it is essential to know each other before you can establish the trust and confidence to work online and that need is higher in case of government departments," said Mehra, who had to stay for a week in a Jodhpur hotel.

Increased demand for air travel and hotel stays by small business owners like Mehra, accompanied by a rise in rural incomes and spending after two good monsoons, is helping the pandemic-hit Indian economy slowly recover.

Government data released on Friday showed the economy shrank 7.5% in the July-September quarter, performing better than analysts' expectation of an 8.8% contraction as lockdowns were eased and some pent-up demand was met. In the April-June period, the economy shrank 23.9%.

Annual growth of 3.4% in farm sector and 0.6% in manufacturing during the September quarter has raised hopes of an early recovery and some service sectors such as trade, hotels and transport contracted at a much slower pace compared with the April-June period.

Farmers, benefiting from a bumper crop, are lapping up tractors while demand for personal vehicles, due to a lack of public transport and the need for safer travel options, has boosted sales of cars and motorcycles.

There has also been an uptick in goods and services, tax collections and higher energy consumption.

A recovery is taking shape and it has been led by the manufacturing sector which has moved from near annihilation in the July quarter to rebound mode, said Yuvika Singhal, an economist at QuantEco Research.

"Until there is a stronger recovery in high contact service sectors, which make up 60% of the GDP, agriculture and manufacturing are expected to carry the growth," said Singhal, adding that India is still growing on a lower GDP base and it will take more than a year to recover lost output.

Slow start for hotels and airlines

A string of Marriot hotels in industrial towns like Sriperumbudur, Visakhapatnam and Nasik are operating at 50% to 60% occupancy with the bulk of guests working with domestic manufacturing companies, said Ashish Jakhanwala, CEO of hospitality firm SAMHI which owns the properties.

Meanwhile SAMHI's hotel in the tech-city of Bengaluru, that mainly depends on large corporates, is filling only 20% to 30% of rooms.

"Demand from large corporates and international travel will take longer to recover. Hotels catering to public sector and infrastructure companies are doing better," said Jakhanwala.

Since the end of May, when the government lifted a ban on flights, monthly domestic passenger traffic has more than doubled from 2 million in June to over 5 million in October. But that is still down from about 12 million a year ago.

India's biggest carrier IndiGo and rival Vistara are seeing an uptick in business travel but to a much smaller extent than before.

"Much of it is from small and medium enterprises (SMEs) or small business owners who cannot afford to sit at home," said Vinod Kannan, chief commercial officer at Vistara, a joint venture between Singapore Airlines and Tata Group.

SMEs have contributed to a 35% to 40% recovery in hotel bookings compared with pre-Covid times and between 27% and 32% recovery in flights, according to online travel agency MakeMyTrip.

Rural revival robust

In the hinterlands, the impact of Covid-19 has not been as severe as in the big cities and farmers have benefited from good rainfall for two consecutive years leading to a bumper harvest and adequate conditions for winter-sown crops. This is driving up sales for tractor makers like Mahindra & Mahindra.

Lack of adequate and safe public transport in small towns and villages has also pushed up demand for cars and motorcycles.

Maruti Suzuki, India's biggest carmaker, had a 10% growth in rural sales between July and September versus a 4% rise overall, led by small, entry-level models, said Shashank Srivastava, executive director, marketing and sales.

"While Bharat (rural India) is leading India in terms of a recovery, it cannot carry India," he said, adding that steady, long-term demand will depend on improving economic factors, growing incomes and a rebound in urban markets.

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