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Saturday, May 15, 2021

No let-up, Delhi extends lockdown until May 3

Delhi has seen a positivity rate of close to 31 per cent for a week now. Kejriwal said it had gone up to even 36 per cent – “the highest in the city till date”.

Written by Mallica Joshi | New Delhi |
Updated: April 26, 2021 3:22:41 am
Police stand guard outside a hospital in New Delhi. (Express Photo: Praveen Khanna)

Citing the stubbornly high positivity rate in Delhi, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Sunday extended the lockdown in the capital for another week – until 5 am on May 3.

Delhi has seen a positivity rate of close to 31 per cent for a week now. Kejriwal said it had gone up to even 36 per cent – “the highest in the city till date”.

On Sunday, Delhi’s positivity rate stood at 30.21% – meaning nearly one in every three people who were tested returned a positive result for the coronavirus.

Delhi has been in the throes of crisis for close to two weeks now, with people struggling to find beds in hospitals, oxygen cylinders for home management of the disease, medicines, as well as help from government officials.

Hospitals across the city have been turning away people for lack of beds, oxygen, and staff, and many patients have died gasping for breath while waiting for admission outside hospital gates. Hospitals have been facing an acute shortage of medical oxygen as demand has outstripped supply.

At least 20 patients died in the critical care unit of Jaipur Golden Hospital late on Friday night after oxygen pressure dipped in the central lines. Between Thursday and Friday morning, at least 25 critically ill Covid-19 patients had died at Ganga Ram Hospital.

Explained

Caseloads high, crisis of oxygen

Kejriwal had announced a weeklong shutdown last Sunday. However, the situation has only deteriorated over the past week, with surging daily caseloads and an acute shortage of medical oxygen.

Overworked hospital staff have been attacked by frustrated family members at a few places.

Chief Minister Kejriwal had announced a weeklong shutdown last Sunday, responding to the immense pressure on healthcare services after the daily case detections reached levels of 25,000.

The restrictions were to be lifted at 5 am on April 26; however, the situation has only deteriorated over the past week. On Sunday, Delhi reported 22,933 fresh cases and 350 deaths.

“Owing to the rise in Covid-19 cases, last week we had announced a six-day lockdown in the state. Lockdown is the last resort and last measure imposed in any fight against Covid, and Delhi’s situation was such that imposing a lockdown had become necessary. However, the rise in cases has not come to a halt and they continue to climb at an alarming rate,” Kejriwal said.

“In this context, even people have demanded that the lockdown be extended. We are extending it for another week, till next Monday 5 am… we observed the positivity rate touched between 36-37%. This is a new statistic for Delhi. Perhaps this has happened somewhere in the world, but we had not observed this before,” he said.

The rules of the lockdown remain largely the same as the past week. Essential workers will be able to travel by showing their identity cards, and those working with stores related to food and groceries, will be allowed to apply for an e-pass.

The one addition in exemptions made on Sunday was to allow courier services, self-employed electricians, plumbers or water purifier repair personnel, as well as shops selling educational books, and electric fans, to remain open. Those employed by these places can apply for e-passes.

Kejriwal also spoke of the shortage of medical oxygen in the city. “The Centre had allotted us 480 tonnes, which was increased to 490 tonnes yesterday. We need around 700 tonnes, but we are not getting more than 335 tonnes. This shortfall is becoming an issue at the hospitals,” he said.

“Ministers and MLAs are making calls and coordinating. In some cases, we fail while in others, we do succeed. I thank all those who are making efforts to help,” he said.

The CM also announced the launch of an application through which manufacturers, suppliers, and hospitals will share the status of oxygen available with them, so that the government can gauge demand and supply – and predict the possibility of a shortage.

“This will help us plan better and avoid emergencies,” he said, adding that teams from the state and the Centre had held a meeting on Saturday to coordinate. “A lot of chaos should get resolved in the coming days,” Kejriwal said.

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