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Monday, April 12, 2021

Delhi Experiences Alarming COVID-19 Surge, Experts Cite Public Irresponsibility As Main Reason

Delhi is presently experiencing a sudden alarming rise in COVID-19 cases since the beginning of November, which experts are terming as the third Covid wave in the city. The national capital, which was once in the headlines for being one of the pioneers in flattening the curve, is now battling the worst Coronavirus revival in the world.

On Wednesday, the city recorded 7,486 new cases with 131 deaths – the highest fatalities in any Indian province so far. The total number of cases have now crossed five lakhs.

The Aam Admi Party government in Delhi received severe criticism from Delhi High Court for their slow and abrupt response to the city’s COVID surge.

Delhi HC Strongly Criticised the AAP Government for Inaction

In an urgent hearing, the special HC bench expressed strong disapproval of the government’s failure to control the situation.

“Why did you not wake up when you saw the situation was deteriorating? …..Why did we have to shake you out of your slumber on November 11?… Why did you wait 18 days (till November 18) to make a decision? Do you know how many lives were lost during this period?” – the bench reportedly asked the government, according to PTI.

On Thursday, the Delhi High Court proposed some emergency policy changes to restore control before the situation goes out of hands. They also pointed out that the increased penalty for not wearing masks in public (from Rs 500 to Rs 2000), as enacted by the AAP government recently, was not helpful as violations are still rampant. Incidentally, before facing the HC’s flak for the delayed response, the government strictly capped the number of attendees at any wedding ceremony to 50. However, they are still not keen on declaring a complete lockdown despite suggestions from healthcare specialists and policymakers nationwide.

Amid the COVID-19 scare, Delhi is also engulfed in a thick smog with AQI (Air Quality Index) levels at a shocking high. The notorious air pollution was aggravated after Diwali when the city celebrated with firecrackers despite the official ban.

‘Lockdown Fatigue’ Main Reason To Blame?

So, how did the situation in Delhi reach such an extreme juncture all of a sudden? Experts are citing ‘lockdown fatigue‘ as the main reason. Being forced to stay home due to the prolonged lockdown from March 2020, people started coming out in hordes as the Centre gradually eased the lockdown criteria. Citizens are thronging marketplaces, malls, restaurants and other public zones, often ditching their masks and sanitizers. The street food hubs witnessed record footfalls in October and early November, as people indulged in outdoor eating violating all social distancing protocols. In the few weeks prior to Diwali, a video of Sadar Bazaar, a prime market complex in Delhi, showed people jostling with each other in a frantic crowd, with little regards for COVID-19 precautions. The third wave of COVID-19 is being considered the inevitable result of such gross violation by the public.

Meanwhile, healthcare infrastructure in the city is again faced with a challenge as the hospitals and ICUs are already overflowing. Today, the central government declared to increase the daily number of RT-PCR tests to 60,000 by end of November, as well as doubling the number of ICU beds available. They also plan to conduct a door-to-door health survey across the city by the coming week.

In a meeting between Home Minister Amit Shah and Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal, several emergency schemes were chalked out to tackle the COVID-19 spike in Delhi. Arrangements have already been made for a team of 75 doctors and 250 paramedic personnel to fly to Delhi and assist the healthcare staff.

At the moment, Delhi’s future remains uncertain in the context of the pandemic. Unless and until the citizens comply with the precautions and norms, it is difficult to bring the situation under control. Complete cooperation of the citizens is needed at this crucial hour for the sake of their own health as well as the health of the more vulnerable section of the population. We earnestly urge the people of Delhi to stay indoors and maintain all social distancing and hygiene protocols till the situation improves.

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