NEW DELHI: Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Sunday announced extension of the ongoing lockdown in Delhi by another week, saying the process of unlock will start from May 31 in a phased manner if the number of COVID-19 cases continue to decline.
Kejriwal said the top priority of his government is to vaccinate people of the city at the earliest to prevent the third wave, and added that he was in talks with vaccine companies for required doses and is ready to buy vaccines at any cost.
Vaccination of people aged 18-44 years has been stopped in Delhi on Sunday as the city has run out of stocks.
In the past 24 hours, Delhi recorded around 1600 positive cases and the positivity rate went further down to below 2.5 percent, the chief minister said in an online briefing.
“I consulted many people and the general opinion favoured lockdown extension for one week. So, Delhi government has decided that lockdown will be extended to 5 AM on May 31,” he said.
Kejriwal said if the lockdown is lifted now the gains made in the last one month through a lot of struggles, hard work and sacrifice may be lost.
“If the current downward trend in number of cases sustains in next one week and people follow precautions against COVID with strict discipline as they have done so far, we will start the process of unlock from May 31,” he said.
It will not be correct to unlock in one go. The unlock process will happen gradually by allowing certain activities from May 31, he stated.
The Delhi government has made arrangements to vaccinate all people in Delhi within three months but there is shortage of vaccines in the country, the chief minister said.
It is being said that a third wave of COVID-19 will arrive. If everyone get vaccine, perhaps the third wave may not arrive, he said.
“We are preparing to vaccinate everyone at the earliest. We are talking to the Centre and the vaccine companies. I am myself talking to vaccine companies, foreign and Indian ones, about how to vaccinate maximum people. We are ready to spend any amount of budget to get the vaccines for Delhi people,” he said.
Kejriwal on Saturday said 50 lakh people were vaccinated in Delhi and 2.5 crore more doses were required to cover all residents of the city.
He said, 80 lakh doses per month are required to vaccinate all people in Delhi within three months.
The chief minister said the Delhi government besides arranging vaccines is simultaneously making other preparations like increasing hospital beds, ICUs, oxygen tankers and storage capacity to combat the third wave.
He said at the height of the ongoing second surge in April, the cases had crossed the 28,000 mark and positivity rate soared over 36 percent.
“But now the second wave is seen to be weakening and we appear to be overcoming it. It has, however, yet not ended and the war is still on and more than 1000 cases are still being reported,” he said Delhi people, he said, worked hard like a family and displayed immense discipline to fight the second wave despite many challenges.
The city received support from all quarters including courts even as it faced many problems like shortage of oxygen he added.
The Delhi Disaster Management Authority(DDMA) in its order stated the ongoing lockdown scheduled to end at 5 AM on Monday, May 24 will now be extended up to 5 AM on May 31.
In the wake of the surging second wave, lockdown was imposed in Delhi on April 19.
With the fifth extension, the city will complete nearly one-and-a-half month under restrictions to break the chain of infection.