CM Kejriwal blames air pollution for coronavirus spike in Delhi
Delhi is in midst of a third coronavirus wave after being battered by the first and second waves in June and September respectively. As the situation raised questions on the administration of Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, he blamed air pollution. He said hazardous levels of pollution, which is mostly driven by stubble burning in neighboring states, led to a spike in fresh coronavirus cases.
Delhi's positivity rate is nearly four times of national average
On Thursday, Delhi set a new benchmark as the most number of people died due to coronavirus-linked complications in 24 hours. A record 104 passed away yesterday and the National Capital added 7,053 new cases to its tally. The case tally now stands at 4,67,028 and 7,332 have died. Delhi's positivity rate is 11.71%, way higher than the national average of 3.8%.
Seemingly, Kejriwal takes little action against pollution during non-peak months
Naturally, Delhi's numbers sent panic waves, but Kejriwal seemed to shrug off responsibility by blaming the air pollution. Tellingly, his government is seen taking minimal steps throughout the year to handle the crisis, which reaches its peak during the winter months. To note, at 7 am today, the air quality remained in the "very poor" category with AQI being recorded at 344.
How are air pollution and coronavirus linked?
A new study, published in the journal Science Advances, claimed that people with long-term exposure to PM2.5 are more likely to die of COVID-19. To arrive at the conclusion, the researchers assessed 3,089 counties in the US. Separately, six researchers from different European institutes claimed that 17% of India's total COVID-19 deaths, as opposed to 15% globally, could be associated with air pollution.
IMA made similar observations, asked high-risk individuals to avoid outdoors
The Indian Medical Association also gave insight into Delhi's raging coronavirus situation. IMA claimed 13% of the coronavirus cases may be linked to dipping air quality. The body advised the susceptible population, like the elderly and children, to not venture outside in the morning as the pollution levels are at their highest then. It was suggested that even healthy ones could face breathing difficulties.
Even I am worried, Kejriwal said
Taking the same line of thought, Kejriwal also blamed air pollution. He reportedly said the coronavirus situation was controlled, but the increase in air pollution derailed Delhi's fight against the pandemic. "Even I am worried about the rise in the number of cases...We are taking all the necessary measures...I hope in seven to ten days, the number of cases should decline," he said.
Kejriwal said farmers face the biggest problem
"For the past 10-12 years, due to stubble burning, pollution increases in entire north India...Media shows the situation in Delhi but the biggest problem is faced by farmers," he said in a public message.
New chemical compound could end pollution woes, claimed Kejriwal
Attempting to give a solution, Kejriwal said scientists at Delhi's PUSA Institute of Technology have found a compound that turns stubble into manure within 3-4 weeks. "Now all that needs to be seen is the government formally introduces this chemical, or will we see this pollution mess year after year...This year should be the last year of pollution due to stubble burning," he said.