COVID-19: Migrant exodus again as Delhi, parts of UP go back into lockdown; HC fiat to Telangana government on curbs

By Express News Service
NEW DELHI/LUCKNOW /HYDERABAD: Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Monday announced a week-long lockdown starting Monday night till April 26. Barring essential services, all other activities will be banned during the lockdown. 

“After reviewing the entire situation, the government feels it is pertinent to impose a lockdown in Delhi for a few days… During this, all essential services with regard to food, medicine would continue” said the Chief Minister Kejriwal. 

The CM added that the heathcare infrastructure in the national capital, which is reeling under an explosion of coronavirus cases, is stretched beyond capacity and the lockdown is to ensure it doesn’t collapse. 

The number of containment zones in the national capital has jumped to 13,259 from 2,183 on April 1, according to official data released by the Delhi government as the city grapples to rein in the drastic surge in COVID cases.

It was a 507 percent increase in such zones between April 1 and April 18.

The number of containment zones has risen correspondingly to the increase in coronavirus cases.

On April 1, the city had reported a total of 2,790 new cases with 10,498 total active cases.

The number increased multifold with 25,462 new COVID-19 cases and 74,941 total active cases on April 18.

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While the number of containment zones has consistently risen since April 12, the biggest jump was observed on April 18, when the national capital recorded the highest daily rise of coronavirus cases.

On April 17, Delhi had 11,235 containment zones, which increased to 13,250 on April 18, adding more than 2000 zones across the city.

The week from April 4 to April 11 saw a gradual increase in the number of containment zones.

While on April 4, the city had 2,917 restricted areas, it added 173 more such zones on April 5 resulting in 3,090 containment zones.

The following days, the Delhi government declared 3,291 containment zones on April 6; 3,708 on April 7; 4,226 on April 8; 4,768 on April 9; 5,236 on April 10 and 5,705 on April 11.

It was after April 14 that the city started adding more than 1000 containment zones to the list every day.

On April 14, there were 7,598 containment zones, which increased to 8,661 on April 15 with the addition of 1,063 zones.

Another 1,268 zones were added on April 16 making a total of 9,929 such areas.

On April 17, it added another 1,306 containment zones to the list.

The decision was announced after a high-level meeting with the lieutenant governor Anil Baijal.

Delhi on Monday recorded 240 deaths due to COVID-19, the highest since the pandemic began over a year ago, and 23,686 cases with a positivity rate of 26.12 per cent, according to data shared by the Health Department.

The city has reported 823 deaths due to the deadly virus in the last five days.

On Sunday, the city had witnessed the biggest jump in its daily COVID-19 tally with 25,462 fresh cases, while the positivity rate had shot up to 29.74 per cent.

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Authorities had reported 161 deaths due to the disease a day ago.

On Saturday, 24,375 COVID-19 cases and 167 deaths were reported in the city.

The city witnessed 141 deaths on Friday and 112 on Thursday.

With the fresh cases, the national capital’s cumulative tally has risen to 8,77,146.

The death toll stands at 12,361, according to the latest bulletin.

A total of 90,696 tests, including 68,778 RT-PCR tests and 21918 rapid antigen tests, were conducted the previous day, the bulletin said.

So far, over 7.87 lakh patients have recovered in Delhi, it added.

The number of active cases in the city increased to 76,887 from 74,941 the day before, the bulletin stated.

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Meanwhile, thousands of migrant workers gathered at the city’s inter-state bus terminals and railway stations to return home even though Kejriwal appealed to them with folded hands not to leave Delhi and gave a word of assurance — “Main hoon na” (I am here for you).

The announcement of a week-long lockdown led to people flocking to markets to stock groceries, essentials and run other errands.

Meanwhile, traders’ associations welcomed the six-day lockdown.

“It was a much-needed step to break the chain of infection,” said Praveen Khandelwal, secretary general of the Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT).

Long, serpentine queues were seen outside liquor shops in Delhi soon after the announcement of lockdown on Monday, with tipplers braving the sun for hours and occasionally breaking into heated arguments.

Delhi has been reporting around 25,000 COVID-19 cases daily in the past few days.

A weekend curfew was in force in the national capital from Friday evening to Monday morning.

The government on Monday set up a committee to ensure “rational” use of oxygen for treatment of COVID-19 patients, according to an order.

Hospitals in the city have been grappling with depleting supply of medical oxygen.

The order issued by the Health Department said the “Oxygen Audit Committee” will identify areas of wasteful consumption.

Kejriwal had on Sunday termed the shortage of oxygen for coronavirus patients an “emergency”.

He had also written to Union Minister of Commerce and Industries Piyush Goyal, seeking his intervention in the matter.

After the announcement, serpentine queues were seen outside liquor shops with tipplers making a beeline to stock up booze. 

ALSO READ | Telangana HC asks state government to lay down its own COVID-19 norms within 48 hours

There were large crowds at the city’s inter-state bus terminals and railway stations as thousands of migrant workers set out to go to their native places. Kejriwal appealed them not to leave Delhi as this is a short lockdown of six days. 

Meanwhile, the Allahabad High Court on Monday directed the Uttar Pradesh government to impose strict restrictions including closing of malls, shopping complexes and restaurants till April 26 in five cities — Allahabad, Lucknow, Varanasi, Kanpur Nagar and Gorakhpur.

The HC slammed the state government for “not planning” for a second wave of the pandemic and also criticised the State Election Commission for holding the panchayat elections at this time. 

The COVID-19 death toll in Uttar Pradesh rose by 167, the highest daily rise so far, to reach 9,997 while 28,287 fresh cases pushed the tally of infection in the state to 8,79,831, according to a health bulletin.

The number of recoveries has increased with over 10,978 patients discharged in a day, it stated.

A total of 6,61,311 people have so far recuperated from the disease in the state leaving 2,08,523 active cases, according to the bulletin.

Of the 167 fresh COVID-19 deaths, 22 were reported from Lucknow, 18 from Kanpur, nine each from Chandauli and Allahabad, 10 from Varanasi, six from Banda, and five each from Gorakhpur, Ballia, Shahjahanpur and Bahraich, it said.

Of the fresh cases, Lucknow reported 5,897, followed by Varanasi 2,668, Allahabad 1,576 and 1365 from Kanpur.

As far as recoveries are concerned, the state capital also had maximum recoveries and 2,641 patients were discharged, while in Varanasi and Allahabad 1,421 and 1,378 people were discharged, it said.

Additional Chief Secretary, Information, Navneet Sehgal said over 3.84 crore samples have so far been tested for COVID-19 in the state, which included over two lakh tested in a day.

Similarly, the Telangana High Court on Monday directed the state government to issue within 48 hours Covid-19 guidelines to minimise footfalls in liquor shops, restaurants, marriage halls and cinemas, among other crowded places. 

(With PTI Inputs)