Home >Lounge >Business of Life >Mint Lite | India unlocks, New Zealand virus-free and other news to know

India unlocked for business on Monday after 75 days. Malls, shopping complexes, restaurants and retail stores opened doors, and offices worked with 10% staff. In Mumbai, where malls will be shut till 30 June, there were huge traffic jams on expressways. Bengal decided to extend lockdown till 30 June as it reported the highest single-day spike in cases. Mizoram is starting a two-week total lockdown from Tuesday. For the rest of the news you need to know in five minutes, here’s Mint Lite.

Cases set to rise in capital city

Delhi has recorded over 1,000 new cases every day from 28 May to 7 June
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Delhi has recorded over 1,000 new cases every day from 28 May to 7 June

As Delhi opened up on Monday, city health minister Satyendar Jain said the capital would have to deal with over 56,000 cases in the next two weeks, with the current doubling rate of covid-19 being 14 days. Delhi has recorded over 1,000 new cases every day from 28 May to 7 June. Chief minister Arvind Kejriwal himself has gone into self-quarantine after complaints of mild fever and a sore throat. He will be tested for covid-19 on Tuesday. It’s not just the economy and the virus that’s givign Delhi residents sleepless nights: there’s the fear of earthquakes too. On Monday, a 2.1-magnitude earthquake occurred near Delhi, with its epicentre 13 km from Gurugram. This was the 16th quake to be reported in Delhi’s neighbourhood since April. The frequency has sparked concerns that a bigger quake could strike the national capital region but seismologists say the increased activity does not necessarily imply that a major one is coming.

New Zealand virus-free, Ardern dances

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern
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New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern

It’s been 17 days since the last new covid-19 case was reported in New Zealand. It’s health ministry said Monday was the first day without a single active covid-19 case since 28 February. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said she “did a little dance" on hearing the news. However, border controls will not be lifted, and only New Zealanders can enter the country. Public transport, retail, hospitality, weddings, sports events, theatres, and travel within the country have been opened fully. New Zealand imposed strict restrictions for 75 days to contain the virus. The early containment measures in a country with a population of just 5 million meant it kept cases at 1,154 and deaths to 22. According to Johns Hopkins University tracker, eight other territories—Montenegro, Eritrea, Papua New Guinea, Seychelles, Vatican City, St Kitts and Nevis, Fiji and East Timor—have eliminatedS the virus for now. Most of these are small island nations with tiny populations.

Banks set for tough year

Banks will have to prepare for their toughest year yet in terms of loan growth as retail loans have fallen drastically in April. Borrowers continued to repay loans but fresh loans were not taken. This trend is expected to continue in May. In the last few years, loans to individuals, or retail loans, have been growing rapidly in India, both in the public and private sector banks (see chart). Assets in the banking sector grew at a CAGR of 15% from FY05 to FY09, the phase of highest growth in the past decade. Since FY15, growth in deposits, which has stood at about 15%, has lagged behind overall loan growth, which is about 16.8%. This is likely to change in future as people become more risk averse due to the covid-19 pandemic and its effect on their livelihoods, and banks become wary of giving out loans.

Growth in deposits and loans (public and private banks)
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Growth in deposits and loans (public and private banks)

New York City’s reopening challenges

New York is among the worst affected US city by the outbreak. Over 205,000 have been infected, and nearly 22,000 died
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New York is among the worst affected US city by the outbreak. Over 205,000 have been infected, and nearly 22,000 died

Exactly 100 days since its first reported case of covid-19, New York City has started the process of reopening. On Monday, officials estimated that 400,000 workers would return to construction jobs, manufacturing sites and retail stores in the first phase of reopening. The subway has started, though ridership was about 50% of the usual traffic as most people continued to work remotely. Offices, salons and indoor dining at restaurants are still barred, and schools and museums will open in the fourth phase. New York is among the worst affected US city by the outbreak. Over 205,000 have been infected, and nearly 22,000 died. At the peak of the infection, about 800 people were dying a day. The number of infections has now reduced to about 500 a day. The city was under curfew till Saturday after rioters looted luxury stores. It is also battling unemployment and systemic racism that both protests and the virus have brought to the fore. City data has found African-American, Hispanic and Latino people have died of the virus at double the rate of white people.

Amazon fires set to outpace 2019

The dry season is starting in the Amazon region, and experts are worried fires in the world’s largest rain forest could outstrip last year’s pace. A report shows that an area 11 times the size of New York City could be incinerated this year
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The dry season is starting in the Amazon region, and experts are worried fires in the world’s largest rain forest could outstrip last year’s pace. A report shows that an area 11 times the size of New York City could be incinerated this year

The dry season is starting in the biodiverse Amazon region, and experts are worried fires in the world’s largest rain forest could outstrip last year’s pace (file photo, right). A report released on Monday shows that an area 11 times the size of New York City could be incinerated this year. As much as 4,500 sqkm of forest have been levelled, according to the report from Amazon Environmental Research Institute (Ipam), University of Sao Paulo and Woods Hole Research Center. This could touch 9,000 sqkm as tree felling continues, said Ipam. Every year, illegal loggers bulldoze swathes of jungle, and the land is then set on fire. This year, loggers have been busier as many forest guards have fallen sick from covid-19. Brazil is battling the second highest number of covid-19 infections in the world. President Jair Bolsanaro is known for a stance that tends towards developing the northern region, rather than preserving the ecosystem.

Curated by Shalini Umachandran. Have something to share with us? Write to us at businessoflife@livemint.com or tweet to @shalinimb

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