All 11 Delhi districts now Covid-19 hotspots; NE district joins the list | Latest News Delhi - Hindustan Times
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All 11 Delhi districts now Covid-19 hotspots; NE district joins the list

Hindustan Times, New Delhi | ByAbhishek Dey
Apr 20, 2020 01:00 AM IST

The move comes as the last district in the city (North East), which had reported no cluster cases of the coronavirus transmission till Saturday, was also identified as a hot spot after three containment zones were notified here on Saturday.

Declaring all 11 revenue districts of Delhi as hot spots, chief minister Arvind Kejriwal on Sunday directed the city administration to conduct a fresh assessment of the Covid-19 situation in Delhi – in terms of numbers, trends and patterns pertaining to the outbreak – by April 27. Based on this review, the government will decide on whether to relax the extended lockdown curbs.

A hot spot is a geographic area, which is put under surveillance and scaled-up test standards to check possibilities.(Sanchit Khanna/HT PHOTO)
A hot spot is a geographic area, which is put under surveillance and scaled-up test standards to check possibilities.(Sanchit Khanna/HT PHOTO)

The move comes as the last district in the city (North East), which had reported no cluster cases of the coronavirus transmission till Saturday, was also identified as a hot spot after three containment zones were notified here on Saturday.

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“Delhi has 11 revenue districts. All of them have been declared hot spots,” said Kejriwal at a press briefing where he added that the Delhi government will not be relaxing curbs from Monday, which the Centre had allowed. The city also has 80 containment zones.

A hot spot is a geographic area, which is put under surveillance and scaled-up test standards to check possibilities. A containment zone within a hot spot is a sealed area that is subjected to stricter surveillance, scaled-up testing, quarantine, periodic sanitisation, door-to-door health checks and supply of essentials at collection points or doorsteps.

According to a senior official from the chief minister’s office, on April 15, when the Centre released a list of hot spots across the country, the North East and North West districts were not included as they did not have any notified containment zones. But, on April 17, North West Delhi got its first notified containment zone and the next day, North East Delhi got three. Both were technically notified by the Centre as hot spots on Saturday.

Till Sunday, Delhi had around 2,003 active cases - with 45 dead, 26 in ICU and six on ventilator support.

FRESH ASSESSMENT

After extending the nation wide lockdown to May 3 the Union government on April 15 had allowed relaxations to certain “additional activities” from Monday provided that they did not fall under containment zones, among other conditions. In Delhi’s context, it included allowing self-employed service providers such as electricians and plumbers, and construction work where sites have provision for safe accommodation of workers.

HT reported on April 19 that the Delhi government did not want to ease restrictions on grounds that the city-state is a “high-risk zone”.

“The coronavirus is spreading fast,” said Kejriwal. “The situation is concerning but not out of control yet. With strict adherence to quarantine and social distancing norms, we need to keep it under control… For the safety of the people of Delhi, we have taken a decision. For now, there will be no relaxations in lockdown (in Delhi). One week later, we will conduct an assessment with the help of experts. Further calls on possible relaxations, if need be, will be taken on the basis of that.”

HT accessed an order from chief secretary Vijay Dev issued soon after Kejriwal’s briefing that said: “The situation of Covid-19 in Delhi has been assessed, and in view of the present scenario, it appears to be necessary to maintain status quo, in larger public interest.”

“Now, therefore, in exercise of the powers conferred under Section 22 of the Disaster Management Act 2005, the undersigned (chief secretary) … hereby issues directions to all departments of Delhi to ensure status quo is maintained with respect to strict implementation of the consolidated guidelines enclosed in the order dates April 15 without any relaxation and additional activities till another comprehensive assessment on 27th April or further orders, whichever is earlier,” the order said.

A senior government official said that for this assessment, the central government’s list of “additional activities would be under consideration. “There is no deliberation on expanding the relaxations beyond that as the revised guidelines of the Union government clearly said that the flexibilities should not dilute its purpose at any cost,” he said.

Jugal Kishore, head of the community medicines department in Delhi’s Safdarjung Hospital, said Delhi was not in a position to relax the lockdown.

“Delhi is vulnerable because of its high population density. Mobility is directly proportional to chances of transmission and that is already visible to some extent after the first phase of 21 days’ lockdown. So, stricter restrictions is a necessary step at this juncture,” said Kishore, who is leading a roped in by the Delhi government to monitor testing.

TESTS, INFRA

Kejriwal said that random tests in containment zones showed that those which maintained strict quarantine, showed better results. “Imagine the situation without a lockdown,” said Kejriwal. “If 3,000 people suddenly need ICU (intensive care unit) beds, 2,000-2,500 need ventilators, what would we do? We don’t have that many ICUs and ventilators. Countries such as Italy, Spain and USA have witnessed such tragic circumstances. Without lockdown, we too could have seen such a situation. The lockdown has saved the country.”

“According to the guidelines issued by the central government, areas where cases are less, can be subjected to relaxations,” he said. “Hot spots and containment zones can’t be relaxed. In Delhi, all 11 revenue districts are declared hot spots now and the city currently has 77 containment zones.”.

Citing findings of Delhi government’s own assessment, the chief minister said: “We have witnessed increase in the number of cases. Yesterday, out of the 736 test results processed, 186 people tested (Covid) positive and all individuals were asymptomatic which suggests that they would have compromised with isolation norms and potentially spread the virus without even knowing. This is a scary situation.”

“I understand the pain of people,” he added. “We too could have allowed relaxations. But, if we give relaxation, what if cases go up and the ICUs and ventilators fall short. And people lose lives? We won’t be able to forgive ourselves.”

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