Covid-19: No lockdown, but there may be local restrictions, says Delhi health minister
The Delhi health minister Satyendar Jain on Wednesday said that there will be no lockdown in Delhi, but “local restrictions” are likely at some places. His statement comes a day after chief minister Arvind Kejriwal had written to the centre seeking permission to lock down markets if they turn into hot spots.
Experts have blamed the current surge in the number of cases on people crowding in market places.
This comes even as Delhi recorded fewer cases for three days on account of lower testing during festivals and holidays. The health minister, however, claimed that not only are the absolute number of cases in decline, but the positivity rate – which had touched a high of 15.33% during this surge – is also on the decline.
“We are still in the third wave of infections, but the peak has been crossed,” the minister had said on Tuesday. So far, the highest number of new cases recorded in a day has been 8,593 on November 11. On Tuesday, 6,396 cases were reported with just over 49,000 tests, as per the daily health bulletin released by the Delhi government. On average, 54,000 tests were being conducted each day before Diwali.
There were also 99 deaths reported on Tuesday, taking the total death toll due to the infection in the city to 7,812.
The minister has maintained that masks are better at preventing the spread of the infection than lockdown. “The lockdown had been an experiment and what we have learnt from it is that wearing masks can give us the same benefits. Scientifically, masks are the best way to stop the virus. The lowest positivity rates are recorded in Covid-19 hospitals because the doctors there follow precautions. If everyone follows precautions, the spread of the infection can be prevented. And, despite a lockdown, some people still go out and can bring the infection back to their family members,” he had said on Monday.
To control further spread, the city will also focus on increased testing. The number of tests will soon be scaled up to 100,000 to 120,000 a day from the current average of about 54,000. Ten mobile laboratories will be deployed by the central government, 10,000 more tests will be done in laboratories of health ministry and ICMR, and another 1,000 tests will be done in science institutions.
The minister also said that celebrating Chhath Puja could lead to the spread, hence restrictions have been imposed. “The virus can spread easily due to large gatherings during Chhath Puja, hence the restrictions,” he said.