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Opinion

Covid-19: Delhi seeks restrictions on weddings and markets

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The Delhi government wants to reduce the number of people at weddings to 50 and has asked the Union government for powers to block markets if they turn into hot spots, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said on Tuesday, both restrictions and fighting From the capital. to control a growing wave of Covid-19 infections that has pushed hospitals to the brink.

Both decisions, which were well received by experts, have been sent to Lieutenant Governor (LG) Anil Baijal for approval.

In the week ending Nov. 14, Delhi recorded never-before-seen levels of new cases, and daily deaths were around 100 per day. The new deaths generally reflect infections that occurred three to four weeks ago. New cases declined over the weekend, but this is likely misleading as the weekend and two festivals (Diwali and Bhai Dooj) led to fewer tests.

Read also | Delhi: Covid-19 testing capacity to double to 120K, focus on RT-PCR testing

“A few weeks ago, when the Covid-19 situation improved in Delhi, the government, according to central guidelines, issued an order allowing 200 people to attend weddings, up from the limit of 50 before. Today we decided that the order should be rescinded and the 50 limit reinstated, ”Kejriwal told a video news conference.

“Second, we saw in the run-up to Diwali that people were not wearing masks or following social distancing in many markets, leading to an increase in infections. Now we have sent a proposal to the government of the Union to allow us to assess whether people are not following the proper behavior in a market and to close it if we believe it could become a hot spot, “he added.

The Union Ministry of the Interior, which is the main agency coordinating measures in response to the coronavirus pandemic, has directed regional governments across the country to seek its permission before announcing any lockdown.

Covid-19: Delhi seeks restrictions on weddings and markets

On Tuesday night, LG’s office received both files, said a senior official who did not want to be named. While LG is likely to receive a call about the wedding-related proposal on its own, it will forward the market-related proposal to the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) and the Union Ministry of the Interior, said the official.

Kejriwal added that he hopes such measures are not necessary as the festival fever has ended in the markets. “All governments and agencies are doing a double effort to contain coronavirus infections. But we will not be able to do it unless everyone does their part, “said the prime minister in what he described as” an appeal with folded hands. “

The CM’s stance appeared to be at odds with comments Monday by Delhi’s health minister Satyender Jain, who said the third wave of infections in the capital has peaked and there will be no further lockdowns. Hours after Kejriwal’s briefing on Tuesday, Senior Deputy Minister Manish Sisodia told HT: “We want to clarify that this is not a blockade. The concept of lockdown has not helped in the fight against Covid-19 in the long term. This is a generic permit that we have requested from the central government for emergency situations ”.

Alarm over the situation has particularly increased since Sunday, when a high-level review of the situation involving top state and central authorities, including Kejriwal and Interior Minister Amit Shah, found that the situation in Delhi did not resemble nothing seen in the most affected countries. regions of the country. At its peak, according to a presentation by VK Paul of Niti Aayog, Delhi added more infections per million than Maharashtra or Kerala, the other two states affected by the pandemic.

The daily hospitalization data collected by the government showed that the number of people admitted surpassed the 9,000 mark for the first time and that of the 3,500 and ventilation beds and ICU allocated for patients with Covid-19, only slightly more. out of 400 are vacant.

Between Nov.1 and Nov.16, more than 101,000 Covid-19 infections were added to the Delhi tally. In this period, the city recorded the most infections (8,593 on November 11) and deaths (104 on November 12) during a single day.

Health experts have repeatedly said that resetting some curbs may be unavoidable to address this situation.

“The Covid-19 situation in Delhi is in bad shape now. These restrictions are very necessary. A large amount of virus transmission has likely occurred during the holiday season and the effects will be visible in the coming weeks. The government should also step up testing, surveillance and containment efforts, ”said Dr. Lalit Kant, former director of epidemiology and communicable diseases at the Indian Council for Medical Research (ICMR).

Also Read: Delhi Will Get 9,500 Equipment For Door-to-Door Surveillance Outside Containment Zones, Contact Tracing

Since Monday, Union officials and the Delhi government have been preparing to gather more resources. “The current 3,500 ICU beds will be increased to 6,000 in the coming days with the help of the government, the army and the central government of Delhi. The army-run hospital in Dhaula Kuan will add 537 ICU beds, 45 central government hospitals, and the Delhi government will add 2,680 beds, mainly through the order to reserve 80% of ICU beds in 33 large private hospitals. ”Paul said at a news conference Tuesday.

The union’s health secretary, Rajesh Bhushan, who was also at the briefing, said: “It has been decided that the number of tests will double in Delhi between 1 lakh and 1.2 lakh. And a strategy has been designed for the same. However, we must ensure that the relationship between rapid antigen tests and RT PCR is correct; it should not lean in favor of rapid antigen tests ”.

Two other important steps in the works are a redesign of the containment strategy and a city-wide door-to-door survey in which officials will urge anyone with symptoms to get tested. According to officials, details of these two measures are likely to be announced in the coming days.

Representatives of the wedding salon industry said they were concerned about the economic consequences of the new restrictions.

“The Delhi government’s proposal to restrict the number will ruin us. Only after the Delhi government increased the number of wedding guests did we start accepting reservations for up to 200 guests. The cards have been distributed and we have called our workforce from their villages as we finally had work. This decision will have an adverse impact on the livelihoods of 1 million families associated with the wedding business, ”said Sandeep Madan, vice president of the Community Welfare Banquet Association.

Brijesh Goyal, president of the chamber of commerce and industry, said: “Traders are anxious in Delhi after Tuesday’s announcement. On Wednesday we will hold a video conference with more than 200 market associations in which we will be recording the opinions and opinions of traders, which will be sent to the prime minister’s office, and we will also be discussing measures related to social distancing. Appropriate Covid-19 behavior and precautions that can be taken to avoid the temporary closure of any market. ”

But experts said the measures were necessary. “The decision on the markets looks like a targeted restraint measure that is temporary in nature and ideally should not be compared to the lockdown we have witnessed previously. There may be an economic impact for a short period, wherever restrictions are imposed, if they are approved, but Delhi is also witnessing a health emergency and the Covid-19 numbers are concerning, ”said Dr. Jacob John, former head of the department of clinical virology at Colegio Médico Cristiano, Vellore.

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