Covid-19: Centre mulls night curfew in Delhi after consultation with experts

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New Delhi: The Centre has sought the opinion of health experts and law enforcement agencies over a proposal to enforce night curfew in the national capital due to the rising number of coronavirus cases, said official sources.

According to officials, these suggestions were made during discussions with various stakeholders including the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA), health authorities, Delhi government and Delhi Police.

However, officials from the Union home ministry, who are monitoring the Covid-19 situation in the national capital, are of the view that this move may lead to disruption in economic activities and interstate movement due to peak marriage seasons. Earlier, the Delhi government had brought down the number of guests at weddings from 200 to 50. The discussion on imposition of night curfew was revived after the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation (AMC) in Gujarat and the Madhya Pradesh government imposed weekend curfew from Friday till Monday.

Home ministry officials said the health infrastructure in the national capital has been further ramped up with over 200 additional ICU beds being made available at Delhi hospitals since November 16. “Besides this, All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) will give 116 oxygenated beds to patients from Delhi. Additionally, 125 ventilators manufactured by Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL) reached Delhi on Friday while another 125 are expected to arrive by next week,” said officials.

On November 15, Union home minister Amit Shah held a review meeting with health minister Harsh Vardhan, chief minister Arvind Kejriwal and Delhi’s Lieutenant Governor Anil Baijal following which the 12-point directions were issued. Another home ministry official said more than 30,735 RT-PCR tests were conducted till Thursday. “ICMR has strengthened labs to carry out 37,200 tests per day. We plan to conduct another 10,000 RT-PCR tests by deploying mobile vans by November 23 and further ramp up tests in the last week of this month taking the total number close to 60,000 per day,” said the official.

According to the home ministry officials, the Delhi government, has launched door-to- door surveys to identify Covid-19 cases and extend medical aid to those who test positive. Meanwhile, the Uttar Pradesh government issued instructions to districts adjoining the national capital to set up multidisciplinary teams to visit private hospitals. The Centre on Thursday instructed Haryana and Uttar Pradesh to hold a survey for assessing the availability of ICU beds and testing capacity in private hospitals in the National Capital Region (NCR) following a surge in coronavirus cases.

Kejriwal’s proposal to shut crowded markets or imposing lockdown during the weekends recommended by other stakeholders is under consideration but no decision has been taken so far, said officials. Both the proposals were opposed by the traders associations. Delhi witnessed a surge in Covid-19 cases from October 28 when the count of daily new infections topped 5,000. On November 11, the city had recorded 8,000 new cases. On Friday, Delhi containment zones were up from 4,509 to 4,560 within a day. As many as 6,608 new cases were reported on Friday taking the total number of active positive cases to 4,0936.

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