Udayavni Special

COVID-19 cases cross 2,000-mark in Delhi; Kejriwal says won’t relax lockdown for at least a week

Team Udayavani, Apr 20, 2020, 8:24 AM IST

New Delhi: The total number of COVID-19 cases crossed the 2,000-mark in the national capital on Sunday, even as Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said the Delhi government will not relax the lockdown for at least a week as the coronavirus spread appears to have gained pace.

According to a bulletin issued by the Delhi health department, 110 fresh cases were reported, taking the tally in the national capital to 2,003. With two deaths, the fatalities jumped to 45.

A month-and-a-half-old baby has also died of the dreaded virus, becoming its youngest victim.

The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government in the city has started rapid testing in 78 COVID-19 containment zones and acquired 42,000 rapid-test kits.

In a containment zone in south Delhi’s Tughlakabad Extension, 35 more people have tested positive for the virus, authorities said, making it possibly one of the largest such zones in the national capital in terms of number of cases.

Earlier, three coronavirus cases were reported from the neighbourhood, prompting the authorities to declare it a containment zone.

“After 35 new cases were found, some more lanes in Tughlakabad have been sealed,” Deputy Commissioner of Police (South East) R P Meena said.

Addressing an online briefing, Kejriwal said the national capital has “borne the maximum burnt” while containing the crisis.

He, however, asserted that the situation is under control and that his government will reassess it after a week to see what relaxations can be given.

An order by Chief Secretary Vijay Dev said the administration will review the situation on April 27.

“The situation of COVID-19 has been assessed and in view of the present scenario, it appears to be necessary to maintain status quo in larger public interest,” it said.

The Delhi Police issued an advisory to its personnel, instructing them not to allow “additional activities” till a further comprehensive assessment is done by the city government.

The AAP government issued an order on Saturday to maintain status quo in the functioning of its departments. There are 70 Delhi government departments that have 1,500 offices.

Meanwhile, all central government officers of the deputy secretary level and above will join office from Monday.

During the briefing, Kejriwal cited last month’s Tablighi Jamaat congregation in Nizamuddin West, a major hotspot, and the large inflow of travellers from other countries to the national capital as reasons for the spread of the virus, and said Delhi was “fighting a difficult battle”.

“Delhi bore the maximum burnt (sabse zyada maar Delhi ko bardhasht karni padi),” he said.

“Delhi also bore the brunt due to the markaz incident,” he added.

The chief minister also acknowledged the difficulties being faced by people during the lockdown.

“We want to relax it, but if we give relaxations and there is a shortage of ICUs, ventilators, oxygen in hospitals and people lose their lives, we will not be able to forgive ourselves,” he said.

“Had there been no lockdown, the situation here would have been similar to Italy and Spain,” Kejriwal warned, while pointing out that Delhi accounts for two per cent of India’s population but 12 per cent of the COVID-19 cases in the country.

According to a PTI tally, Delhi has the highest number of COVID-19 cases in the country after Maharashtra.

Citing instances of asymptomatic people testing positive for the virus, Kejriwal said of the 736 samples collected recently, 186 were found to be COVID-19 positive and these people did not know that they were carrying the virus.

He said rapid testing of all people engaged in food distribution at the government-run centres will be carried out after one of them tested positive.

Talking about the asymptotic cases, Kejriwal said, “When we talked to one of them, he said he was engaged in serving food at a government-run centre. I have ordered rapid-testing of all those who visited the centre. We will also do rapid-testing of all people engaged in food distribution at government-run centres.”

He had previously said his government was serving food to around 10 lakh people daily.

Meanwhile, Delhi district officials deployed in the coronavirus containment zones and quarantine centres said a number of residents have flooded them with odd demands, including for chicken biryani, mutton, pizza, sweets and hot samosas, keeping them on their toes during the lockdown.

In a containment zone, people are not allowed to step out of their houses and the government ensures delivery of essential items at their doorstep. Once an area is declared a containment zone, the administration and police officials create a WhatsApp group where people place requests for essential items and the authorities ensure delivery at their doorstep.

A Delhi Police constable has also tested positive for the virus, taking the number of affected personnel in the force to eight.

Meanwhile, 10 staff members of the Alshifa Hospital in southeast Delhi’s Okhla have been quarantined after they attended to a COVID-19 patient.

A doctor at the hospital tested positive for the virus after he treated a female COVID-19 patient on April 5.

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