Noting the rapid and exponential rise of Covid-19 cases in the capital, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal has termed it the fourth wave of coronavirus in the capital.
“For the country, this might be the second wave but for Delhi, this is the fourth wave,” he said. Stating that the exponential rise – Delhi recorded 425 cases on March 16 and 3,583 cases on April 2 – was a cause for concern, the chief minister said that there was no need to panic and that the government was not thinking of imposing any form of lockdown in the capital for now.
However, Kejriwal did not completely rule out the possibility of a lockdown: “As of now, there is no thinking within the government for any form of lockdown. In the future, if there will be any need, I will discuss with you and then take a decision.”
On April 2, according to the government’s health bulletin, Delhi recorded 3,594 cases, 14 deaths, 2,084 recoveries and 11,994 active cases. Worryingly, the positivity rate shot up to 4.11 % from 0.66% on March 17.
The chief minister added that compared to the third Covid wave in the capital in October last year, the present one was less serious in terms of the number of deaths as well as the number of people requiring hospitalisation.
“In this fourth wave of corona, even though the cases are rising rapidly, these are less serious than the past wave – in terms of the number of deaths as well as those requiring hospitalisation and ICU care. In October, when 3,000 to 4,000 cases were being reported everyday, there were approximately 1,700 patients in the ICUs and today, there are approximately 800 patients in the ICU and while approximately 40 deaths a day were being reported then; today, approximately 10 to 12 deaths are being reported,” he said.
Spelling out the strategy of the government, Kejriwal said that the challenge was three fold – containing the spread of the disease; boosting the health management system into a state of preparedness to respond to a developing situation; and vaccination on a war footing.
Appreciating that the central government had allowed for those above 45 years of age to be vaccinated, the CM made a fresh appeal to the central government to relax its strict norms for vaccination centers, and also do away with the age criteria of 45 plus.
“Yesterday, 71,000 doses of vaccine were administered and there were four cases where people had mild reactions. Now, it is clear that the vaccine is safe. If the central government allows us to vaccinate people at a mass level, in community centers, schools etc., we could create hundreds and thousands of facilities and launch a vaccination drive on war footing,” he said.
This, he explained, would help the government in controlling the disease, and the government could ensure that ambulances, first-aid and medical attention was provided for in case someone developed a reaction.
“If we do not allow non–health facilities, there are limits beyond which we cannot go,” Kejriwal said, noting that Delhi has a capacity for vaccinating 96,000 people a day.
“The second is remove the age limit of 45 years and allow all people to get vaccinated on a war footing. Hope that central government will think about this and allow state governments, at their level, to take up vaccinations on a war footing,” he said.
He said the focus of the meeting on Friday was on further boosting the hospital infrastructure so that if people fell sick and needed to be hospitalised, ambulances, hospital, ventilators, oxygen and ICUs were available.
“We have drawn up a plan when to increase ICU beds in private and government hospitals”, he said.
The government will rely on test, trace and isolate in order to contrain the spread of the disease, he said, adding that new containment zones will also be made. He, however, added that the role of the people was crucial in containing the disease, appealing to people to start wearing masks, observe social distance and wash hands or use sanitisers.