Delhi: With coronavirus cases rising, Kejriwal may impose partial lockdown
A day after a minister from the Aam Aadmi Party-led Delhi government said the lockdown won't return, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal asserted some markets could be shut down for a few days since coronavirus cases are rising in the National Capital. He said a general proposal is being sent to the Central government, adding that a few markets have become local COVID-19 hotspots.
After being battered by first and second waves in June and September respectively, Delhi was hit by the third wave of infections late last month. From November first week, the daily tally in Delhi rose, touching 8,593 on November 11. A day later, Delhi touched another grim benchmark as 104 died in 24 hours. On Monday, 3,797 fresh cases were registered.
Though yesterday's figure provides a slight relief, Delhi can't rejoice just yet as testing had been alarmingly low for the last two days. Merely 29,821 samples were tested on Monday and 21,098 a day earlier. On November 11, 64,121 samples were tested. Delhi's current spike is steered by the festive season when people flocked markets ignoring social distancing. Air pollution also played a role.
Confirming that shopping during festivals brought Delhi to its knees, Kejriwal said, "We are sending a general proposal to the Central government so that, if required, the Delhi government can shut down those markets for few days where norms are not being followed and they are becoming local COVID-19 hotspots." He also said only 50 people will be allowed at public gatherings, hereon.
"In keeping with the Central government guidelines, Delhi had allowed up to 200 people at weddings. But now we have decided to go back to the earlier limit of 50 people. I have sent a proposal to the Lieutenant Governor for approval," Kejriwal added.
Kejriwal also lamented that coronavirus-associated precautions were flouted. "People think it (COVID-19) will not happen to them. The disease can happen to anyone and can turn fatal once it infects you. I appeal to Delhiites with folded hands to wear masks and follow social distancing norms," he said. The CM's words show Delhi's situation is dire, even though a minister claimed the worst is over.
Ironically, Health Minister Satyendar Jain assured yesterday that the AAP government was not even considering to shut markets. "I can tell you today that the peak of Delhi's third wave is gone. The festival is over, the crowds will get thinner now on," he claimed.
As Delhi's coronavirus crisis worsened, the BJP-led Centre intervened again. On Sunday, the Centre said more ICU beds will be made available, RT-PCR tests will be doubled, and a house-to-house survey will also be done. Appreciating the Centre, Kejriwal said, "I want to thank Centre for helping Delhi in this difficult time. I especially want to thank them for providing 750 ICU beds."