The Latest: India identifies, seals coronavirus hot spots

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The Latest on the coronavirus pandemic. The new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms for most people. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness or death.

TOP OF THE HOUR

— India identifies, seals coronavirus hot spots as cases rise

— South Korea’s top central banker expects slow, but positive economic growth.

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NEW DELHI — Indian authorities have identified and sealed dozens of hot spots in the Indian capital and the neighboring Uttar Pradesh state comprising residential districts to check the rising trajectory of new coronavirus infections.

Government statements late Wednesday said people will be supplied food, medicines and other supplies at their doorsteps and they will not be allowed to leave these areas.

Authorities also made it compulsory for people to wear face masks when stepping outdoors in areas not covered by these restrictions in the two states.

The sealing of hot spots came as the number of confirmed cases in India crossed the 5,000 mark, with 166 deaths, according to India’s Health Ministry.

India put its entire population of 1.3 billion, one-fifth of the worlds’ population, under lockdown for three weeks until April 14.

Although the new coronavirus cases are spread over roughly 40% of India’s districts, they are concentrated in India’s densely populated urban centers. Mumbai, previously known as Bombay, is the worst impacted.

India’s strategy is focused around identifying “containment zones” where efforts would be targeted on restricting the virus “within a defined geographic area” to break the chain of transmission.

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SEOUL, South Korea -- South Korea’s top central banker says he expects slow but positive economic growth for the trade-dependent country this year despite worldwide shocks wrought by the coronavirus.

Bank of Korea Governor Lee Ju-yeol’s assessment Thursday came after the bank held its policy rate at 0.75% despite calls for lower borrowing costs. The bank’s monetary policymakers cited a need to wait for the effect of financial tools that had already been employed to spur the economy.

Lee said his forecast for economic growth was based on expectations that the global pandemic will start to slow in the second quarter and stabilize in the latter half of the year.

“We forecast the South Korean economy to manage positive growth this year, but it would be difficult for the rate of growth to reach 1%,” Lee said. “Ultimately, (economic) flows and aspects will depend on how the COVID-19 situation develops.”

The Bank of Korea had lowered its annual growth forecast for the economy from 2.3% to 2.1% in February.

The bank last month executed an emergency rate cut of 0.5 to bring its policy rate to an all-time low of 0.75%. It also expanded short-term borrowings for banks and other financial institutions through repurchase agreements to calm markets rattled by the coronavirus crisis.

Some experts say it’s unclear whether traditional financial tools to boost money supplies would be effective now when the global pandemic has damaged both supply and demand, decimating industrial hubs in China and Italy and forcing millions to stay at home under tightened quarantines.

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