A day after Diwali festivities ended, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Tuesday requested the Union government for permission to shut those markets that may emerge as COVID-19 hotspots amid rising cases in the national capital.
Kejriwal had earlier acknowledged that Delhi is facing the third wave of coronavirus infections but it will not be put under a lockdown again.
“Since cases are rising in Delhi, we are sending a general proposal to the central government so that, if required, the Delhi 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,” Kejriwal said in an online media briefing on Tuesday.
The Delhi government may also roll back the decision to allow 200 guests at weddings and restrict it to 50. “I have sent a proposal (of restricting wedding guests to 50) to the Lieutenant Governor. I hope he permits soon,” Kejriwal said.
Kejriwal resented that many people weren’t wearing masks on Diwali or following social distancing norms 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. Please follow social distancing,” he said.
The third wave of COVID infections started towards the end of October and has continued unabated with record numbers each week. On November 3, the city had recorded 6,725 cases and three days later it crossed the 7,000 mark. On November 11, 8,593 new cases were recorded, which is an all-time high. The number of COVID deaths every day has also increased consistently, touching 104 — highest yet — last Thursday.
In addition, stubble burning, Diwali and change in temperature have degraded the air quality, raising concerns of a rapid rise in COVID cases.
The Delhi administration rushed to the High Court for reserving 80 per cent beds for COVID patients when several private hospitals reported zero bed availability in their intensive care units.
The central government then issued 12-point measures and sent 10 multi-disciplinary teams to the city’s private hospitals treating COVID-19 patients.
Kejriwal thanked the Union government for providing 750 ICU beds.
A Union health ministry report suggested Delhi’s daily average caseload may be around 15,000 cases during the cold days ahead.
The total number of cases in Delhi so far is 4.89 lakh. About 7,600 people have died and the active caseload has crossed 40,000 – this was below 10,000 in August.