India's second COVID-19 wave may impede economic recovery, says S&P

COVID-19 vaccinatin in Mumbai
People wearing protective face masks wait to receive a vaccine for the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) at a vaccination centre in Mumbai, India, April 26, 2021. REUTERS/Niharika Kulkarni

April 28 (Reuters) - Credit rating agency S&P Global said on Wednesday the second wave of COVID-19 infections in India could impede the country's economic recovery and expose other nations to further waves of outbreaks.

"In addition to the substantial loss of life and significant humanitarian concerns, S&P Global Ratings believes the outbreak poses downside risks to GDP and heightens the possibility of business disruptions," the rating agency said in a note.

India's healthcare system has been overwhelmed, with the world's second most populous country reporting more than 300,000 new COVID-19 cases daily over the past six days and the death toll set to cross 200,000.

S&P, which has a long-term credit rating of 'BBB-' on India, just one notch above junk, said it may have to revise its base-case assumption of 11% growth over fiscal 2021/2022, especially if wider containment measures are re-imposed.

S&P expects the consumer retail and airport sectors to have a dragged out recovery with localized lockdowns and curfews in several parts of the country, and said the Indian banking sector continued to face a "high level of systemic risk".

The rating agency noted that the pace and scale of recovery from the second wave of COVID-19 infections will have implications for India's sovereign credit rating.

The Asia-Pacific region is susceptible to contagion from the highly infectious COVID-19 variants present in India, given the low ratios of vaccination in the region, S&P said.

Reporting by Shivani Singh in Bengaluru; Editing by Shounak Dasgupta

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