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01 Mar 2021, Edition - 2057, Monday

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Arvind Kejriwal Seeks To Shut Delhi Markets Emerging As Covid Hotspots



New Delhi: Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal today said that his government has sought the Centre’s go-ahead to allow it to shut for a few days markets that may emerge as COVID-19 hotspots amid a coronavirus surge in the national capital. The state is also looking at reducing the number of people allowed for weddings back to 50.

Mr Kejriwal’s remarks come a day after his government said that the city would not be put under another lockdown, adding that a third wave of COVID-19 had already peaked out.

“Since cases are rising in Delhi, we are sending a general proposal to the Centre so that, if required, the state government can shut for a few days those markets where social distancing norms are not being followed and they are on the verge of becoming local COVID-19 hotspots,” Mr Kejriwal said in an online media briefing today.

I hope the crowd in the markets will thin out and there will be no need to close them, he added.

“Delhi had allowed up to 200 people at weddings, in keeping with the Central government guidelines. 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. I hope he gives permission soon,” Arvind Kejriwal said.

Mr Kejriwal also thanked the central government for helping Delhi in “such a difficult time”. I especially want to thank the Centre for providing 750 ICU beds, he said appealing to people to wear masks and follow social distancing norms.

“During Diwali, we observed that many people weren’t wearing masks or following social distancing while shopping. People think it (COVID-19) will not happen to them. I request you with folded hands that the Coronavirus disease can happen to anyone, and can turn fatal,” the chief minister said.

The state government, Centre and all agencies are making double the effort to control spread of COVID-19 in Delhi… All this is being done for you and your family, he said.

The Covid spike in Delhi started in the end of October, and has since thrown up record numbers each week. On November 3, the city had logged 6,725 cases, three days later it crossed the 7,000 mark. On November 11, the city saw 8,593 new cases, an all-time high. Though Delhi recorded 3,500 cases in the past two days it came with a drop in testing to under 30,000 – half of the usual. The number of daily Covid-related deaths has also increased consistently, touching 104 – highest yet – last Thursday.

The situation evoked concern in view of increase in number of patients with severe symptoms needing hospitalisation as air quality dropped because of stubble burning, Diwali and change in temperature.

It became worrying when many private hospitals reported zero bed availability in their Intensive Care Units, making the Delhi government run to the High Court for reserving 80 per cent beds for Covid patients.

The central government has since called an urgent meeting to get a handle on pandemic management in Delhi, issued 12-point measures and sent 10 multi-disciplinary teams to city’s private hospitals treating COVID-19 patients.

According to a central government report, Delhi is likely to see an average of 15,000 cases a day in the winter.

The overall number of cases in Delhi is now more than 4.89 lakh. Of this over 7,600 are deaths linked to the virus. The active caseload has crossed 40,000 – this was below 10,000 in August.

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