The International Monetary Fund said on Thursday that the Indian economy was on the path of gradual recovery, reported PTI. The IMF will release its World Economic Outlook on April 6.

“India’s economy is on the path of gradual recovery, real GDP growth, return to positive territory in [the] fourth quarter of 2020,” IMF’s spokesperson Gerry Rice said. “And that’s for the first time actually since the start of the [coronavirus] pandemic and it’s supported by a pickup in gross, fixed capital formation.”

Rice cited high-frequency indicators such as the Purchasing Managers’ Index, an indicator of the prevailing direction of economic trends in the manufacturing and service sectors, to point to India’s recovery. “However, the recent emergence of the variants and localised lockdowns could pose risks to a sustained recovery,” he said.

The country is witnessing an increase in Covid-19 cases. India on Friday registered 59,118 new coronavirus cases, taking the country’s overall count to 1,18,46,652.

The Union health ministry had said on Wednesday that a new “double mutant variant” of the coronavirus and “variants of concern” have been detected in 18 states in India. The ministry, however, added that the new strain has not been found in sufficient numbers to establish or explain the rapid rise in cases in some states.

In January, the IMF had projected an 11.5% growth rate for India’s economy in 2021. The organisation had estimated that India’s economy contracted by 8% in 2020. The figure was a positive revision of its estimate in October 2020, when it had predicted that the growth rate would shrink by 10.3%.