Arvind Kejriwal faces the heat as Delhi braces for another Covid-19 surge

Delhi CM is seeking Centre’s ‘permission’ to lockdown hotspot market a day after Home Minister's intervention to handle crisis

delhi covid

India is steadily inching towards reaching the 90 lakh mark of all Covid-19 cases recorded with around 30,000 daily new cases for the last two consecutive days. Over the past 24 hours 29,163 new cases were reported but recoveries are stated to be steady too. 

According to official government figures 75.14% of the new cases have been reported from ten states/UTs. Delhi, which is recording a surge in new cases over the last few days, reported 3,797 new cases on Monday, followed by West Bengal which reported 3,012 new cases. Kerala recorded 2,710 new cases. However, 22.76% fatalities were reported from Delhi which reported 99 deaths. Maharashtra reported 60 fatalities, followed by West Bengal (53).

Delhi has witnessed a spurt in novel coronavirus cases since October 28, the steady surge in Covid-19 infections is being reported as the festive season has reached its peak, the temperature and wind speeds have dropped and the  pollution in the national capital region has risen. 

For the second time since the pandemic Union Home Minister Amit Shah had to step in yet again and direct a slew of measures to control the spread of Covid-19 in Delhi. According to the Union government, “In view of the shortage of medical staff in Delhi, it was decided to provide additional doctors and paramedical staff from the CAPFs and they would soon be airlifted to Delhi”. Amit Shah also directed the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare (MoHFW) to arrange more BIPAP machines and high flow nasal cannulas to be supplied to the Delhi Government urgently. He directed that house-to-house survey be conducted across Delhi by teams of AIIMS, Government of NCT of Delhi and the Municipal corporations.

The MoHFW was asked to issue a standard protocol for plasma therapy and plasma administration for Covid-19 treatment immediately, as well as deploy mobile testing labs in areas where poor and vulnerable sections of the society reside. As ICU beds are in short supply in Delhi hospitals, the Centre directed that 250-300 beds be added at the DRDO medical facility at Dhaula Kuan near Delhi airport. Now dedicated multi-departmental teams visit all the private hospitals in Delhi to physically check the availability of Covid-19 medical infrastructure.

A day after that review meeting and instructions from Union Home Minister, the Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal has now sought permission from the Centre to impose a lockdown in markets with potential to be Covid-19 hotspots. On Tuesday, CM Kejriwal sought power from the Centre to impose lockdown in those markets which may emerge as Covid-19 hotspots. He also withdrew his order allowing 200 guests to attend wedding functions, scaling it back to 50.

“A proposal has been sent to LG Baijal for his approval to withdraw the previous order and bring the number of guests for wedding ceremonies back to 50 from 200,” said Kejriwal, adding that he was also “sending a proposal to the Centre to give power to the Delhi government to impose lockdown in market areas which may emerge as Covid-19 hotspots.” 



The city markets have been full since Diwali, and many are moving around without masks and not maintaining any social distancing whatsoever. Kejriwal said he hoped that the markets become less crowded, but if other Covid-19 prevention rules are not followed the markets may be shut down as a preventive measure. However, on Monday the Delhi Health Minister Satyendar Jain had said a reimposition of lockdown in the national capital would not be needed “since the third wave of the coronavirus has peaked” in the city. He had maintained that the virus cannot be contained through lockdown and that people should protect themselves by wearing face masks. Kejriwal said that there were enough beds for Covid-19 patients needing treatment in government and private hospitals.

Union Home Minister Amit Shah had already reviewed the Covid-19 situation in Delhi, on Monday and noted the “increasing strain on the capacity of medical infrastructure in the hospitals of the Capital”. That meeting was attended by Union Health Minister, Lt. Governor, Delhi; Chief Minister, Delhi; Health Minister, Delhi; Home Secretary; Secretary, Ministry of Health & Family Welfare (MoHFW); Dr. V.K Paul; Director, AIIMS; Director General, ICMR; Secretary, DRDO; Director General, Armed Forces Medical Services (DGAFMS) and other senior officials. 

According to PIB, Dr VK Paul made a presentation, highlighting “the deteriorating situation of Covid-19 in Delhi” and stated that while the Case Fatality Rate (CFR) continues to remain in control, the health and medical infrastructure, such as dedicated Covid-19 beds, beds with ventilators, and ICUs, is already showing signs of strain.  The Home Minister then issued a slew of directions including doubling testing capacity for RT-PCR tests, adding beds to hospitals, airlifting additional doctors and paramedical staff to Delhi etc.



While the Kejriwal government has been at loggerheads with the Municipal Corporations of Delhi (MCD) over financial issues the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has decided that a few MCD hospitals will also be converted as dedicated hospitals for Covid-19 treatment. 



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