Amid COVID vaccine shortage, Delhi government likely to extend lockdown by another week



NEW DELHI: The Delhi government is likely to extend the ongoing lockdown by another week, although the Covid situation is improving in the city with less number of cases and declining positivity rate in the past few days, official sources said on Saturday.

Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal had first imposed a lockdown on April 19 which was later extended multiple times, lastly on May 16.

In the last 24 hours, around 2,200 cases were reported in the city and the positivity rate too declined to 3.5 per cent, Kejriwal said in an online briefing earlier in the day.

“But this does not mean the threat of coronavirus has been averted. We have to take all the steps to safeguard against coronavirus,” he said.

The chief minister had said on Friday that he would have a discussion with the Lt governor and share the decision taken in the meeting, when asked by reporters about any relaxation in lockdown in view of the improving situation.

“The ongoing second wave has been very fatal and there are little chances that lockdown will be relaxed. It is highly likely that another weeklong extension will be announced by the government,” the sources said.

Community platform LocalCircles conducted a survey in which 68 per cent respondents from Delhi favoured a weeklong extension of the lockdown, said founder of Local Circles Sachin Tapadia.

The percentage of respondents favouring lockdown extension was 85 per cent in the last two weeks, he said.

Brijesh Goyal, the chairman of Chamber of Trade and Industry (CTI), said the opinion of traders was divided over extension of the lockdown as revealed in a survey conducted by it.

“Fifty per cent traders of Delhi are in favour of extending the lockdown for another one week and the remaining 50 per cent supported opening the city,” he said.

Goyal said the survey also revealed that 85 per cent of factory owners were in favour of opening up all types of industrial activities shut due to the lockdown.

The state recorded 2,260 fresh coronavirus cases, the lowest since March 1, and 182 fatalities on Saturday with the positivity rate slipping to 3.58 per cent, even as Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal cautioned that falling numbers did not mean the dangers have been stalled.

According to the latest health bulletin issued by the health department here, the number of deaths recorded in the city has also dipped to less the 200 the first time since April 18.

Delhi had recorded 3,846 COVID-19 cases and 235 deaths on Wednesday, 3,231 cases and 233 deaths on Thursday, and 3,009 cases and 252 deaths on Friday.

The national capital on Saturday, 2,260 cases and 182 deaths were recorded, with a much lower positivity rate of 3.58 per cent, according to the health bulletin.

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This is the lowest daily spike in cases recorded since March 31 (1,819) and the first time that the count has gone below the 3,000-mark since April 1, when 2,790 people tested positive for the viral disease.

The new fatalities pushed the death toll due to COVID-19 in the national capital to 23,013 on Saturday.

The positivity rate was 5.5 per cent on Thursday and 4.76 per cent on Friday, slipping gradually to less than 4 per cent on Saturday.

In an online briefing, Kejriwal said, “In the past 24 hours, only about 2,200 cases have come up in Delhi, and the infection rate has also declined in the past 24 hours, and come down to about 3.5 per cent. But this does not mean that the dangers of the coronavirus have been stalled. It persists”.

“We have to take every measure to save ourselves from the coronavirus,” he said.

As the cases registered a mark fall, Delhi Health Minister Satyendar Jain shared the bulletin copy on Twitter, and wrote that the number of daily cases of the disease in the city stands at 2,260.

“These are lowest numbers after 31 March. Still need to take all precautions and follow Covid appropriate behaviour,” he added.

Amid escalating cases of black fungus in the national capital, Delhi Health Minister Jain earlier in the day had asked people to be watchful and not resort to self-medication, particularly of steroids, and said about 15 hospitals in the city are treating patients of mucormycosis.

Mucormycosis or black fungus is more common among people whose immunity has got lowered, due to Covid, diabetes, kidney disease, liver or cardiac disorders, age-related issues, or those on medication for auto-immune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis.

On May 15, Kejriwal had said, “The virus is reducing in Delhi slowly and steadily, and I hope it diminishes completely and does not rise again. However, we are not going to become negligent in anyway”, while sounding a tone of caution.

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Kejriwal on Saturday said, “To save Delhi and the country from the third wave, there is only one way, vaccinate maximum people in minimum time. Beds, ICUs, oxygen, and medicines, we are already preparing for all this, but the vaccine is the strongest weapon to save ourselves from the wrath of the coronavirus. The shortage of vaccines is not just the concern of the government, the ordinary man is also scared of the problem of shortage of vaccines.”

Since April 19, both daily cases and single-day deaths count had been spiralling up, with over 28,000 cases and 277 deaths recorded on April 20; rising to 306 fatalities on April 22.

On May 2, the city registered a record 407 deaths, according to official data.

A total of 63,155 tests, including 43,061 RT-PCR tests and 20,094 rapid antigen tests, were conducted a day ago, according to the health bulletin on Saturday.

The number of cumulative cases on Saturday stood at 14,15,219.

Over 13.6 lakh patients have recovered from the virus.

The number of active cases decreased to 31,308 on Saturday from 35,683 a day before.

The number of people under home isolation dipped to 18,060 from 20,673 on Friday while the number of containment zones dropped to 48,429 from 50,074 a day before, the bulletin said.

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