COVID-19: Lockdown not an option, some restrictions will be imposed, says Delhi CM

CM Kejriwal visits LNJP Hospital amid rising Covid-19 cases in Delhi, says administration, hospitals working to contain fourth wave of pandemic in city
Arvind Kejriwal

Amid escalating cases of COVID-19 in Delhi, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Saturday said lockdown is “not an option” but some restrictions will be put in place in the national capital which is reeling under the fourth wave of the coronavirus pandemic.

The chief minister said this during an interaction with reporters after visiting the LNJP Hospital — the mainstay of Delhi’s fight against COVID-19 — to review its preparedness.

“Lockdown is not an option, however, we will be putting some restrictions in place to contain the spread of the virus. We will release the restrictions in the coming few days. COVID centres are being rebuilt and some have already started functioning,” he was quoted as saying in a statement issued by the chief minister’s office.

Kejriwal said the administration and hospitals are working to contain the fourth wave of the pandemic in the city.

“We are currently in a comfortable position with reference to beds and ventilators. We will ensure that the people of Delhi stay safe, to the best of our abilities,” he added.

Coronavirus cases in Delhi have mounted at a very rapid rate in the last few days, and the number of deaths too have risen.

Delhi recorded 8,521 fresh cases of COVID-19 on Friday, the highest single-day surge since November 11 last year, while 39 more people died due to the coronavirus infection, taking the death toll to 11,196.

The highest single-day spike in Delhi till date — 8,593 cases — was reported on November 11 in 2020, while on November 19, the city had recorded 131 COVID-19 deaths, the highest single-day fatality count till date.

“Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal visited the Lok Nayak Jai Prakash Narayan hospital on Saturday, to review its preparation in the face of the fourth wave of the coronavirus pandemic that has hit Delhi. He took stock of the situation and the facilities provided to the patients in the hospital,” the statement said.

At present, 1,500 beds out of 2,000 are reserved for COVID-19 patients, and the number might be increased according to requirements in the future, Kejriwal said.

“The last few days have seen a rise in the number of corona cases in the entire country, including Delhi. We need to simultaneously spearhead an aggressive vaccination campaign and also put in place measures that can effectively contain the spread of the virus along with making the hospital management equally effective,” he said.

This is the fourth wave of COVID-19 in Delhi. The last wave was in November after which the new cases had become so few in Delhi that “health system and agencies began to lax”, he was quoted as saying in the statement.

It is imperative that they gain their momentum again and begin to function in the same efficient manner that they did, which helped contain the spread of the virus, the chief minister said.

“The Delhi government and hospitals of Delhi are working in earnest to revert to their November level of preparation that helped contain the virus,” he said.

The Delhi government-run LNJP Hospital has 2000 beds. During the last wave, all 2000 were declared as COVID beds.

Right now, we have declared 1,500 of those as COVID beds, 500 are still non-COVID. Slowly, the outpatient department will also be shut at the hospital and if the situation demands, all 2,000 will be made available for COVID patients, the chief minister said.

“Whatever is required by the hospitals from our end, will be provided. We sincerely hope and pray to God that no one falls prey to the disease but in the scenario that they do, we will ensure that the hospitals are ready for the challenge and the people of Delhi face no obstacles in recovery,” he said.

Asked about the vaccination campaign and preparation of the government in the face of rising cases, Kejriwal said, “I have written a letter to the prime minister (Narendra Modi), in which I have said that if adequate doses of the vaccination are made available to us; if we are given permission to increase the number of vaccination centres and if the age limit is removed then within 2-3 months we can vaccinate the entire state”.

“I cannot talk about the rest of the country, but according to Delhi government’s level of preparation, if these three pre-conditions are met, we can assure you that all residents of Delhi will be vaccinated within 2-3 months,” Kejriwal asserted.

Once everyone is vaccinated, it will greatly aid in containing and ending the severity of the virus, he said.

“At the moment, we have vaccination for 7-10 days and the conditions for administering them, particularly the age limit, are very rigid. According to me, there is an impending need to remove these obstacles that are coming in the way of the vaccination campaign,” the statement said.

During his visit to the hospital, Kejriwal also spoke to a patient admitted in the COVID-19 ward through a video call facility and enquired about his condition.

With the help of the video call facility at LNJP, patients can directly talk to their family members, the statement said.

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