Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Sunday (April 19) said the ongoing COVID-19 lockdown will not be relaxed in the national capital as the deadly virus appears to be spreading at a “faster pace”. The government, meanwhile, has begun rapid antibody testing in various containment zones across the city.
State Health Minister Satyendar Jain had a day earlier said the AAP government has acquired 42,000 rapid testing kits. The rapid tests were initiated in Delhi on Sunday for all containment zones across the national capital, the officials said.
Two kinds of diagnostic tests are being currently prescribed for use in India — the RT-PCR test and rapid antibody test — as per global health norms. Rapid antibody tests are generally used in hotspots where the infection is found concentrated in a given area.
Meanwhile, Kejriwal said during an online media briefing that his government will assess the situation again after one week. According to an order issued by Delhi Chief Secretary Vijay Dev, the government will review the situation on April 27.
After assessing the prevailing situation in Delhi, we have decided not to permit any relaxation of the lockdown, as of now. https://t.co/mPIOpuF2KR
— Arvind Kejriwal (@ArvindKejriwal) April 19, 2020
“We too want to relax the lockdown which is an easy task. But if we give relaxations and if there is a shortage of ICU, ventilators, oxygen in hospitals and people lose their lives, we wouldn’t be able to forgive us. Hence, the decision to not relax lockdown was taken today,” Kejriwal said.
As the virus has started spreading at a faster pace, containment zones have been increased, he said, but assured the situation is under control. In Delhi, there are 11 districts which have hotspot areas and relaxation cannot be given there as per the central government’s revised guidelines.
Kejriwal also said there have been instances where people who did not show symptoms were found infected by COVID-19. Out of 736 samples collected recently, 186 people were found to be infected by COVID-19 on Saturday and all of them were asymptomatic, he said.
“When we talked to one of them, he said he was engaged in serving food at a government-run food centre. I have ordered for rapid testing of all those who had visited this centre. We will also conduct rapid testing of all people engaged in food distribution at government-run centres across the city,” Kejriwal said.
On Sunday, Kejriwal said Delhi has 2 per cent of the country’s population but 12 per cent of the total COVID-19 cases. He cited the Tablighi Jamaat congregation in Nizamuddin last month and a major inflow of travellers from other countries as the reason for the spread of the virus in Delhi.
“Delhi is fighting a difficult battle these days. Being the national capital of country, there was a major inflow of travellers from other countries. Delhi bore the brunt of maximum travellers from other countries. Delhi also bore the brunt due to an incident in the markaz,” he said.
Kejriwal said Delhi has reported 1,893 COVID-19 cases and 43 deaths, adding that there are currently 26 people in ICU and six on ventilator support. Of the 43 fatalities, 24 were aged above 60. “If there had been no lockdown, the situation here would have been similar to Italy and Spain,” he said.
The Delhi government has declared 76 areas as containment zones to control the further spread of the highly contagious virus.
(With inputs from agencies)