Delhi is likely to extend the Covid lockdown for another week, sources told NDTV on Saturday afternoon, adding that Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal could announce the decision on Sunday.
The national capital is under lockdown till 5 am on Monday, as the ruling Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) scrambles to contain a fresh wave of infections and a positivity rate that remains over 30 per cent.
“Coronavirus still continues to wreak havoc in the city. Public opinion is that lockdown should increase. So the lockdown is being extended for one week,” Mr Kejriwal said last Sunday.
This morning the city recorded over 27,000 new cases and 375 deaths in 24 hours – the 13th straight day with more than 20,000 cases per day. The city’s active caseload is now nearly one lakh – more than double the previous high of around 44,000 recorded in mid-November last year.
The frightening surge in Covid cases over the past weeks – exactly two months ago Delhi reported fewer than 200 new cases in 24 hours – has brought the city’s healthcare system to its knees.
Hospitals are overflowing, doctors are traumatised, and medicines and oxygen are in short supply.
Today eight people died at Delhi’s Batra hospital after an 80-minute delay in getting a fresh supply of oxygen. Last week 25 people died at the city’s Jaipur Golden Hospital for a similar reason.
The centre, which allocates medical oxygen based on requirement and its own assessment, had allotted Delhi 490 metric tonnes per day against a request of 700 MT.
The Delhi government today told the Delhi High Court that it had received only 400 MT of that amount.
The lethal shortfall in oxygen supply has been the subject of a court hearing over the past fortnight, in which the centre has faced some tough questions about its handling of the crisis.
“You have to arrange everything. You’ve made allocations… have to fulfil it. Eight lives have been lost. We can’t shut our eyes to it,” the court said today, referring to the tragedy at Batra Hospital.
Meanwhile, Delhi will begin vaccination for people between 18 and 44 years of age from Monday.
Last month the centre widened the vaccine net to include everyone over the age of 18. Previously only those over 45 and people classified as healthcare or frontline workers were eligible.
However, the centre’s new “liberalised” vaccination policy provoked furious criticism after vaccine manufacturers were allowed to charge different prices for supply to states or private hospitals.
These prices – as high as Rs 1,200 per dose of Covaxin for private hospitals – led to several states saying they would not be able to start the vaccination drive on May 1 as the centre said.
Delhi, one of those states, today said it had received around 4.5 lakh vaccine doses.
India this morning reported over four lakh new cases in a day for the first time ever.