The surge has left the healthcare infrastructure stretched to its limits and caused acute shortage of oxygen. Chief minister Arvind Kejriwal warned that if strict measures were not taken now, the healthcare system could collapse.
All non-essential movement, including that of domestic workers, has been prohibited. Public parks, malls, markets, liquor shops, barber shops, saloons, beauty parlours, cinemas, non-essential private offices, etc will remain shut with the aim to break the chain of coronavirus transmission. Public transport like the Metro, buses, cabs and autorickshaws will be allowed to run with a restricted sitting capacity but they can carry only those people who are exempted from the lockdown.
“If the health system collapses, then I fear we might witness a huge tragedy,” said the CM at a press conference after discussing the Covid situation with lieutenant-governor Anil Baijal. Kejriwal said he has always been opposed to such lockdowns but the government was left with no other option. “I understand how people lose their jobs and salaries during lockdowns. This is especially difficult for the economically weaker sections and daily wage labourers.”
Don’t leave Delhi, Kejriwal urges migrants
The last time a lockdown was imposed in the entire country, we saw how a large number of migrant workers began returning to their villages. I would like to appeal to them, with folded hands, that this is a short lockdown, for six days. Please do not leave Delhi. You will lose a lot of time, money and energy in travelling. Stay in Delhi. I strongly believe that this short lockdown would not be extended,” said Kejriwal.
Among the exemptions that have been granted is the movement of people for marriage- related gatherings. Up to 50 people will be allowed on producing a soft or hard copy of the wedding card while only up to 20 people will be allowed for funeral-related gatherings. All other social, political and religious gatherings have been banned. Visitors have been barred from religious places which, however, can stay open. Bars and restaurants will remain closed but home delivery is allowed.
The lockdown was announced the day the weekend lockdown ended. Unlike the 2020 lockdown, this short lockdown does not prohibit interstate travel. People can go to the airport, railway stations and ISBT with a valid ticket and also use public transport services.
The chief minister said that with about 25,000 cases being reported daily, the healthcare system of the city has reached its limit. “It has not collapsed but is under great stress. If strict measures are not taken now, it can collapse,” he said, urging migrant labourers to stay in Delhi and not panic. Kejriwal said the AAP government has been honest and transparent in Covid management and sought the citizens’ cooperation.
“In the past 24 hours, approximately 23,500 new cases have been reported. The number of beds in the Delhi hospitals is falling short. Less than 100 ICU beds are left and there is a shortage of oxygen as well. One private hospital informed us that around 3am, the night before yesterday, they had almost no oxygen left. They panicked as a huge tragedy could have occurred. It was with great difficulty that they managed to procure oxygen. We are also falling short of medicines, especially Remdesivir,” said Kejriwal.
The CM stressed that he didn’t wish to scare people but was just spelling out the actual situation. “None of the hospitals can cater to a countless number of patients. We do not want Delhi to face a situation where patients will be lying in the corridors or losing their lives on the streets, at any cost. After reviewing the entire situation, your government feels that a lockdown should be imposed in Delhi for a few days,” said Kejriwal, hoping that the curbs may help reduce the cases.
He said during the lockdown period the government will arrange a large number of beds. “We are asking the Centre for help and have been in constant touch with them. They are helping us too. We would also utilize this period to arrange for oxygen and medicines. It is a humble request to all that they follow the rules and do not step out of their home,” said the CM.
According to a DDMA order, which described the lockdown as a curfew, people will be allowed to appear for examinations on producing valid admit cards. For exempted activities, people can get e-passes by applying on the Delhi government website – www.delhi.gov.in. No epass is needed for moving around on foot for all permitted activities. The e-passes obtained for night curfew or for the weekend curfew will be valid during the week-long lockdown.
Rlys stops sale of platform tickets at all city stations
The Railways on Monday said it has stopped with immediate effect the sale of platform tickets at all major stations in the national capital in view of the surge in Covid-19 cases. The northern railway’s announcement came hours after chief minister Arvind Kejriwal announced a six-day lockdown, which he said was necessary to deal with the rising number of cases as the city’s health system was stretched to its limits. “Stoppage of sale of platform tickets includes major railway stations of Delhi i. e. New Delhi, Old Delhi, Hazrat Nizamuddin, Anand Vihar Terminal, etc. The Railways said the trains already in operation would continue to run. “Railways is there to take the last passenger to the destination. There are enough trains running and most of them at very less capacity utilisation. All trains will continue to run,” Railway spokesperson DJ Narain said.