The Delhi High Court Thursday pulled up the Arvind Kejriwal-led AAP government over the rising coronavirus cases in the city, saying why did it wait to take precautions like reducing the number of attendees at weddings when the cases were on the rise after November 1.
“Why did you wait for 18 days to restrict number of attendees at weddings, how many died of Covid-19 during this period,” the high court said.
“You were shaken out of slumber, you turned turtle after we asked questions,” the high court added.
“We certainly cannot be silent bystanders to a situation that is deteriorating. We will not be silent observers. You were not working from November 1 on wards till very recently and that is getting us worried…We are not here to shake you out of your slumber,” the court said.
The HC noted that the quantum of fine for not wearing masks, not maintaining social distancing did not appear to be a deterrent in controlling the cases. “Those who are not stepping out of their homes are getting infected because of carelessness of others,” the high court said.
“We are not saying you alone are responsible, the citizens are also responsible and are supposed to take precautions. If they don’t, you are supposed to enforce it in such a way that they don’t carry infection to others,” it added. Follow Coronavirus India Live Updates
Last week, the court had questioned the government’s November 1 decision to raise the cap on the number of guests allowed at weddings to 200. It had also asked the government to file a status report on or before November 18 explaining the steps taken by it in the last two weeks to control the Covid-19 situation in the national capital.
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Following this, the AAP government sought to revert its relaxation rules and reduce the number of attendees at weddings to 50. The government has also written to the Centre to allow local shutdowns in markets that may emerge as Covid hotspots. The court also directed the government to implement its plan to increase 660 ICU beds in hospitals by next week.
The court ordered the state government to file a status report indicating the steps taken to ensure there are adequate arrangements made at all crematoriums and all other burial places to do the last rites of those who have succumbed to Covid-19 infection. The cremation grounds are overflowing and the funeral pyres are burning through the night, the court observed.
The court has upheld the government’s decision to ban holding Chhath Puja at public places in the national capital, stating that the right to health must be respected first.
On Wednesday, Delhi recorded 7,486 fresh Covid cases, taking the tally to 5,03,084, while 131 more fatalities pushed the death toll to 7,943. This was the highest number of deaths reported in the city so far.
The positivity rate in Delhi, which had fallen to 6 per cent in September, has consistently been above 11 per cent for the past two weeks — crossing 15 per cent on some days. Experts had warned of an increase in the number of cases keeping in mind the festival season.
In the wake of rising Covid-19 cases, Home Minister Amit Shah held a meeting Sunday, where Kejriwal was also present. On Wednesday, the Centre announced a slew of measures to curb the rising virus cases in the national capital, which include increasing the testing capacity to 60,000 RT-PCR tests a day by November end, completing house-to-house survey by November 25, doubling the ICU beds at DRDO facility near the Delhi airport to 500 in the next four days and making 800 beds available through the Indian railways among others.
The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has already constituted 10 teams of officials and doctors who are inspecting private hospitals in Delhi on Covid containment and treatment.
CM Kejriwal has said the government has sought permission from the Centre to modify guidelines to shut markets if necessary. There was massive crowding in markets in the run-up to Diwali and social distancing norms were ignored by traders and market-goers.
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