Don't Panic Over Coronavirus Outbreak, Govt Keeping a Close Watch on Its Impact: FM Sitharaman

News18.com

New Delhi: Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Friday said there is no need to press the "panic button" due to the global coronavirus epidemic, adding that the government is keeping a close watch on the impact of the virus on the Indian economy.

Speaking to CNBC-TV18's Shereen Bhan at the Indian Business Leader Awards (IBLA) in Mumbai, Sitharaman said the outbreak currently does not pose a challenge to the economy. But if issues are not resolved in the coming three weeks, there could possibly be a problem, she added.

When asked what efforts the government was making to mitigate the risk of the pandemic, Sitharaman said the central government is gauging various options at a number of levels. She said officials from a number of secretaries are in close contact with industries and multiple options, including airlifting raw materials from China, are being considered.

Sitharaman said the pharmaceutical and electronic industries, which depend heavily on imports from China for raw materials, have suggested airlifting of essential items and the government is in the process of considering it.

The Commerce Ministry, headed by Union minister Piyush Goyal, on Friday said a meeting will take place on March 3 between exporters and industry leaders to discuss the impact of the coronavirus on the export and import industry.

Over 2,700 people have lost their lives across the world due to the coronavirus, with more than 80,000 infections reported so far. In wake of the outbreak that began in China's Wuhan city last December, many airlines, including Indian carriers, have cancelled their flights to and from China.