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Sunday, November 26, 2023

Millions back in confinement worldwide, India IT hub locks down

As coronavirus cases spike around the globe, millions are pushed to isloate and socially distance themselves. India joins a raft of nations and capitals worldwide to reimpose lockdowns, reinforce lockdown restrictions and SOP's for fighting against the virus amid occurrence of new outbreaks of the disease.

India’s IT hub Bangalore went into a new week-long lockdown Tuesday as the number of coronavirus cases surged.

Economic data from Singapore to Britain revealed the shocking extent of the damage wrought by the global pandemic.

India’s IT hub amid coronavirus spike 

India joins a raft of countries and cities across the globe to reimpose localised lockdowns and other restrictions in the face of new outbreaks of the disease.

After imposing one of the world’s strictest lockdowns in late March, the country of 1.3 billion people had been steadily easing rules to lessen the huge economic impact — particularly on vast numbers of poor Indians who lost their jobs.

Read more: Coronavirus caseload leaves India blushing

But infections have continued to soar, passing 900,000 with almost 24,000 deaths, according to Tuesday’s health ministry figures that many experts say underplay the severity of the situation.

Bangalore, home to more than 13 million people, has emerged as a new hotspot and the southern city started new a seven-day lockdown at 8:00 pm (1430 GMT).

Firms in the city’s lifeblood IT sector handling the back-office operations of dozens of global corporations can continue operating, but with only half the staff allowed on premises at any one time.

Transport is banned except for emergencies, and only shops selling essential items are allowed to open.

“I do not want to take chances… I am stocking up for two weeks,” said Mangala, a housewife, as she joined a long queue to buy provisions ahead of the deadline.

Bihar, home to around 125 million people and one of India’s poorest states, will follow into lockdown on Thursday for 15 days, the local government announced, following a record surge in cases.

The western city of Pune and other states including Uttar Pradesh, home to 200 million people, badly hit Tamil Nadu and Assam have also introduced new restrictions. Other countries have been reimposing restrictions as new infections spread like wildfire.

No return to ‘normal’

“There will be no return to the ‘old normal’ for the foreseeable future,” World Health Organization chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said Monday, warning that without governments adopting a comprehensive strategy, the situation would get “worse and worse and worse”.

In England, face masks will become compulsory in shops and supermarkets from next week, the health secretary said Tuesday in a U-turn on previous policy.

Read more: India locks down IT hub Bangalore

Face masks have been mandatory on public transport across the country since June 15, and Scotland has already made the coverings compulsory for shoppers.

After overseeing drastically downscaled Bastille Day celebrations in Paris, French President Emmanuel Macron said also said he would like to make masks mandatory in enclosed public spaces.

“We have indications that (the outbreak) is accelerating a bit,” he said.

Macron’s comments come as doctors have warned of a potential second wave of infections, possibly in the coming weeks, which could again overwhelm hospitals and require new lockdowns that could further hammer the economy.

In the United States on Tuesday, the hard-hit state of Florida posted a record number of deaths for a 24-hour period at 132.

New York added four states to its travel blacklist, meaning residents from them must quarantine for 14 days on arrival.

California drastically rolled back its reopening plans on Monday and ordered all indoor restaurants, bars and cinemas to close again as cases soared across America’s richest and most populous state.

Churches — as well as gyms, shopping malls, hair salons and non-essential offices — must also shut indoor operations in half of the Golden State’s worst-hit and most densely populated counties, including Los Angeles.

Alarm bells worldwide

The bruising economic impact of the pandemic was stark in Singapore, where the economy shrank more than 40 percent in the second quarter, plunging the Southeast Asian financial and trading hub into recession for the first time in a decade.

“It’s the worst-ever quarterly figure in Singapore’s 55-year history,” CIMB Private Banking regional economist Song Seng Wun told AFP on Tuesday.

Read more: Asian markets facing brunt of pandemic, new Cold War

The worse-than-expected figures will ring alarm bells for other economies reliant on trade.

Britain also saw its economy shrink by nearly a fifth in the three months to May compared with the previous quarter as the lockdown crippled activity.

Across the globe, the pandemic has infected nearly 13 million people, killed more than 566,000 and triggered massive economic damage in the seven months since it was detected in the Chinese city of Wuhan.

Since the start of July, nearly 2.5 million new infections have been registered across the globe, with the number of cases doubling over the past six weeks, according to an AFP tally based on official figures.

Latin America on Monday recorded the world’s second-highest regional death toll, declaring a total of 144,758 fatalities to pass the 144,023 recorded in the United States and Canada.

It now stands second only to Europe, where 202,505 people have died.

Read more: Economic slump in India exacerbated by lockdowns

South Africa reimposed a nationwide curfew to prevent a “coronavirus storm” from ravaging the continent’s hardest-hit nation, where new infections have topped 12,000 a day.

In what may prove a blow to those who have recovered, researchers at Kings College London said COVID-19 survivors could lose their immunity within months, leaving them vulnerable to reinfection.

AFP with additional input by GVS News Desk