Indian Central Bank Chief Latest Official to Get Coronavirus


Reserve Bank of India Governor Shaktikanta Das said he has tested positive for Covid-19 but is asymptomatic and will continue to work in isolation.

“Work in RBI will go on normally,” Das said on Twitter late Sunday. “I am in touch with all Deputy Governors and other officers through VC and telephone.”

Das is the latest high-ranking executive among Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s policy makers to test positive for the coronavirus. India is the second worst-affected country after the U.S., and while official data show fresh infections slowing, both Das and Modi have recently warned that a potential second wave is a risk to the economy, which has already shrunk the most among peers.

The Reserve Bank has been doing the heavylifting to revive growth after strict shelter-at-home rules slammed businesses and eroded public finances. The monetary authority has cut rates by 115 basis points this year and pumped in billions of dollars to lower borrowing costs. Its rate-setting panel earlier this month pledged to stay accommodative for as long as it takes, beyond the end of the financial year on March 31.

The monetary policy committee is next due to meet Dec. 2-4.

Amit Shah, India’s home minister and Modi’s top lieutenant, was admitted three times to hospital after he tested positive for Covid-19 on Aug. 3. Shah, who has been Modi’s right-hand man for more than three decades, has since resumed duties.

Former President Pranab Mukherjee died in hospital in August while being treated for a lung infection. He had tested positive. Other Indian ministers who were also diagnosed with the coronavirus include Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari and Oil Minister Dharmendra Pradhan.

The virus has sickened more than 7.8 million people in India and killed about 118,000, according to data collected by Johns Hopkins University and Bloomberg News. It has been roughly 38 weeks since the first case was reported in India. Asia’s third-largest economy shrank about 24% April-June, the steepest fall among major markets.

“COVID-19 has tested and severely stretched our resources and our endurance,” Das said in his latest public address on Oct. 9. “Our travails are not over yet and a renewed rise in infections remains a serious risk.”

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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