COVID-19 Daily Update - May 22

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Was it a good idea to ease Lockdown restrictions while positive cases continue to rise? Suraksha Pinnu speaks to Dr Giridhar Babu, an epidemiologist on the Technical Advisory Committee in Karnataka.

This and more on the daily update.

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Hello. This the daily COVID update from Deccan Herald. 
On the bulletin today:Karnataka reports 138 new cases today, of which more than 100 are returnees from Maharashtra...the RBI makes loans cheaper and extends loan repayment by 3 more months...
And we speak to Dr Giridhar Babu, an epidemiologist from Karnataka’s Technical Advisory committee to get a sense of what is the new normal once restrictions are lifted.

But first, a look at the daily figures
At the time of this recording, India has over 50,000 active cases in the country right now and has recorded 3,697 deaths.

The ICMR has tested more than 27 lakh samples for the novel coronavirus so far and more than 1 lakh samples in the last 24 hours.
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The central government’s top healthcare adviser has claimed the nationwide restrictions had averted an estimated 37,000-78,000 deaths and 14-29 lakh cases of COVID-19.
Presenting the assessment of the first two phases of lockdown, V K Paul, a member of NITI Ayog said that the restrictions had stalled the speed at which the virus was spreading through the country. 
Citing the figures, Paul said that by April 3, the nation was seeing 22.6% new cases per day. But there was a clear slowing down after April 4, now settling at 5.5%. 
He also stated that 80% of the active cases were in five states or 60% of the cases are confined to five cities. That is 
the lockdown had helped confine the virus outbreak to limited areas in few states and cities. 
The authorities shared that this analysis was made by independent experts using publicly available data. 
The government’s strong defence of the lockdown came on a day when leaders of 22 political parties, joined a meeting convened by Congress President Sonia Gandhi. 
The political parties questioned the government’s decision for lockdown, contending that the approach had delivered diminishing returns.
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Before we take a look at the figures from Karnataka, here are some key updates from the country...
The Reserve Bank of India has cut policy repo rate by 40 basis points to 4% to help businesses and public avail cheap bank loans. It has also extended the moratorium on loan repayments by three more months in view of COVID-19. The RBI made the first official remark on India’s economic growth in 2020-21, saying it will remain in the negative territory for most part of the financial year.
But along with the rate cut on loans, the interest rates on savings are also expected to come down.
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Moving on to the numbers from Karnataka… 
138 new cases were reported from the state today.
Most of those who tested positive today have a travel history to Maharashtra. Other travel histories include Jharkhand and  Telangana. 
The highest number of cases have come from Chikkaballapura with 47 new cases. Hassan is in second place with 14 cases. Raichuru has reported 10 new cases. Mandya and Tumakuru have reported 8 cases each.
With this, the state has reported 1743 cases in total of which 1104 are active cases. 597 patients have recovered, while 41 have died. The state has tested more than 12,229 samples in the last 24 hours.
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Moving on to a few updates from Karnataka, 
Chief Minister Yediyurappa has announced that the state will bear the travel cost of migrant workers and stranded persons who want to return to their homes through ‘Shramik’ trains. These trains are set to run till May 31st. 
At present, the ‘Shramik’ trains are run on a 85:15 cost-sharing ratio, with the states having to bear 15% of the cost, which the travellers have been made to pay in several cases. 
The Indian Railways has operated 1,565 'Shramik Special' trains since May 1 and ferried over 20 lakh migrants back home. 
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After a gap of nearly two months, the railways has begun intra-state services in Karnataka. The first train left from Bengaluru to Belagavi at 8 am on Friday. But the railways' attempt to resume regular passenger services  received a lukewarm response. The KSR Bengaluru-Belagavi Tri-weekly Special train carried only 338 people while the train to Mysuru had 37 passengers.
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The easing of the lockdown has coincided with a sharp increase in cases across the country. Karnataka has been among the few states anxious to get back to normal life. The state government is being guided in all its decisions by a technical advisory committee consisting of epidemiologists and virologists. I spoke to Dr Giridhar Babu earlier today to understand what the future containment strategy is since more than 6000 cases were reported from across the country yesterday and 2000 from Maharashtra alone, I began by asking him if India was prepared to deal with the surge in cases.
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You can watch the full interview on our website, as well as on our social media channels tomorrow.
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That's all from us today. For the latest updates, log on to deccanherald.com. Stay safe and we’ll see you tomorrow.