Weekend curfew imposed in Delhi as Covid cases multiply, CM tests positive

Published January 5, 2022
People shop at a crowded market amidst the spread of the coronavirus in the old quarters of Delhi, India, January 4. — Reuters
People shop at a crowded market amidst the spread of the coronavirus in the old quarters of Delhi, India, January 4. — Reuters

NEW DELHI: Authorities in Delhi on Tuesday ordered people to stay home over coming weekends having seen Covid-19 cases quadruple in a week, with its chief minister saying he had caught the virus just a day after he addressed an election rally without a mask.

Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, the most senior elected official of the Indian capital’s administration, was one of the 37,379 new Covid-19 cases reported in India in the past 24 hours. Deaths in the past day totaled 124.

The daily case load was the highest since early September and experts suspect the highly transmissible Omicron variant has begun to overtake the Delta variant as the latest wave of coronavirus infection builds in places like Delhi, though authorities say hospitalisations have not spiked yet.

Delhi is reporting more than 4,000 new cases a day, and Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia said though most patients were showing mild or no symptoms and recovering fast, people will have to stay indoors on Saturday and Sundays to rein in the virus.

On weekdays, most offices will have ensure that half their employees work from home, he told a media briefing, adding that when possible infected people should stay home so that hospitals are able to handle the most serious cases.

Kejriwal, who addressed an election rally in the state of Uttarakhand, said on Twitter he had isolated at home with mild symptoms and urged anyone he had been in contact with during recent days to do likewise and get tested for Covid-19.

Neither the chief minister or any of the people seen sharing the dais with him during the rally wore masks.

Facebook user Abhishekh Singh posted a message on Kejriwal’s official page telling the chief minister he should reflect on his behaviour.

“Try spending some time in isolation to watch your own videos/advertisements on how to be careful, wear masks, and not overcrowd public places,” he wrote. Mega-rallies last year helped Delta wreak havoc in the country, and with several state elections due in coming months alarm is growing among health experts and the public, and there are media reports that a court in the populous northern state of Uttar Pradesh has urged authorities to delay polls there.

Federal government guidance has been for local authorities to impose movement curbs if more than 5pc of Covid-19 tests were positive. Delhi crossed that point on Monday, with 6pc of people testing positive.

India’s overall positive case rate has nearly tripled since early November to 3.24pc on Tuesday, and some cities have already closed schools and colleges.

It can take days to confirm the strain of a virus through genomic sequencing, and the federal home ministry has so far confirmed just 1,892 Omicron cases countrywide, most of them in Mumbai’s home state of Maharashtra, followed by Delhi.

Since the pandemic first swept into India in January 2020, the country has recorded 34.96 million cases, including 482,017 deaths.

Published in Dawn, January 5th, 2022

Opinion

Editorial

Noshki killings
Updated 14 Apr, 2024

Noshki killings

It must be asked why Baloch separatists continue to target civilians as well as security men despite large deployment.
Upholding the law
14 Apr, 2024

Upholding the law

THE recent discord in Bahawalnagar offers a chance to reflect on the sanctity of the law and its enforcement across...
Tragic travels
14 Apr, 2024

Tragic travels

FOR those embarking on road and boat journeys, the probability of fatal accidents has seen a steady rise. The recent...
Security lapses
Updated 13 Apr, 2024

Security lapses

Ensuring the safety of foreign citizens is paramount, not just for diplomatic relations but for our economic future.
An eventful season
13 Apr, 2024

An eventful season

THE Senate chairman and deputy chairman were elected unopposed, and 41 new senators were sworn in on Tuesday,...
Living rough
13 Apr, 2024

Living rough

WE either don’t see them or don’t want to see them — not even when they are actively trying to get our...