Covid Times: The number of Covid-19 cases in India has crossed 50,000, the number of cases stood at 51,269, with the death toll at 1,761. The Telangana government has extended the lockdown in the state till May 29. West Bengal has recorded its highest jump in Covid-19 cases, with 112 new cases recorded, while four persons have died in the past 24 hours. Containment zones have increased in Kolkata and South 24 Parganas.
For thousands of Indians stranded abroad, the wait to return home has become a little longer. The government’s plan to send 64 flights to 12 countries was postponed from 24 hours to 48 hours, several government sources confirmed that the delay was due to the fact that the Air India crew had to undergo Covid-19 tests. As per the original plan, flights from six countries were scheduled to land on May 7, but will now do so either on May 8 or 9. An update also on the charges Indian citizens must pay for their travel back home. Remember, this is not an evacuation but more of a coordinated commercial operation. So, it’s not only those returning by train and flight who will have to pay. The government has decided that passengers who will be brought back by Indian naval ships will also be charged for the service. While the charges will be “reasonable” or nominal, a final decision on the exact amounts will be taken in the coming days.
Wanted Hizbul Mujahideen “operational commander” Riyaz Naikoo is among the four militants killed by security forces in south Kashmir, the authorities said. Internet and calling facilities in the Valley were cut off today as “a precautionary measure”.
Following accusations by French hacker Robert Baptiste that the Arogya Setu application had security vulnerabilities, the team working on the application published yesterday a clarification that there is no personal information about a user in danger and that there was no security breach. To back up his claims, Baptiste launched a mini storm on social media today when he said in a series of tweets: “Yesterday, an attacker could find out who was infected, wrongly, he self- Assessment in the area of his choice. Basically, I could see if someone was sick in the PMO office or the Indian Parliament. I could see if someone was sick in a specific house if I wanted to. “Then he added, in large part:” And yes, yesterday: – 5 people felt bad in the PMO’s office – 2 bad in the Indian army headquarters – 1 infected in the Indian Parliament – 3 infected in the Home Office. The main point being made by Baptiste, as well as many leading cyber-security experts, is that the source code of the Arogya Setu app should be open source, as that is the best way to make it robust. “Singapore did it. Israel did it. Iceland did it….Your turn @SetuAarogya,” tweeted Baptiste, calling for the source code to be published.
There is an increase in excise duties on petrol by 10 rupees per liter and on diesel by 13 rupees per liter. This increase would allow the government to eliminate the gains from the fall in international oil prices, which have reached at least two decades. PTI reports that “cash-strapped government will earn about Rs. 1.6 crore lakh of additional revenue this fiscal year thanks to record increase in excise duties on gasoline and diesel. This will help offset revenues that he lost in an economic downturn and business closings due to the blockage of the coronavirus.
Bloomberg announced today that the India Purchasing Service Managers’ Index (PMI) “fell 43.9 points to 5.4 in April, the lowest in the world, reaching for the first time unique numbers and it stayed below 50, the dividing line between contraction and expansion. Given that the service sector accounts for more than half of India’s GDP, the sharp drop in the PMI is a sign of gigantic devastation in an economy hit by Covid-19. Indian manufacturing activity also experienced a sharp decline. Together, historical comparisons of the PMI to GDP suggest that the Indian economy contracted in April by 15%, according to the report, citing data released by IHS Markit, an information services company.
Union Secretary General Ajay Bhalla has written to chief Secretary of West Bengal Rajiva Sinha asking the state government to comply with center instructions to allow vehicles carrying essential goods to cross the border from Bangladesh following the failed state government, large numbers of trucks carrying essential supplies to Bangladesh are stranded at various border crossings. The Bengal government, on its part, has been unhappy over not being consulted on the resumption of trade through the international border, the State has the final say on the easing of the restrictions imposed following the lockdown.