Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal on Sunday said that the ongoing lockdown in Delhi has been extended till May 24 morning. It was earlier supposed to end at 5 am on Monday, May 17.
On April 19, a weekend curfew in Delhi was turned into a full lockdown from the next day in the light of an alarming rise in Covid-19 cases in the capital which left the city's health infrastructure creaking. Since then, this is the fourth time the lockdown has been extended.
"The lockdown has been extended till 5 am next Monday," the chief minister said during his visit to a Covid-19 health facility set up outside the government's GTB hospital.
For the past few days, Delhi has been witnessing a steady decline in Covid-19 infections. However, the positivity rate still remains well above 5% -- a level considered relatively safe by the WHO.
"The recovery rate is going up. And the positivity rate is going down. In the last 24 hours, around 6,500 new cases have been recorded in Delhi and the positivity rate has dropped to 10% -- down from 11% the previous day. We cannot let our guards down now," Kejriwal said and added it was hoped that the situation would get further better in another week.
The Delhi Disaster Management Authority (DDMA) issued the official order regarding the lockdown extension around 12.30 pm. "The situation of Covid-19 in Delhi has again been reviewed and [it has been] observed that Covid-19 positive cases and positivity rate is still high and [the] bed occupancy (oxygen beds/ICU beds) in the dedicated Covid-19 government and private hospitals and nursing homes is also on [the] higher side," said the order explaining the rationale for extending the lockdown.
Dr Lalit Kant, former head of the division of epidemiology and communicable diseases at the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), said: "Delhi is still facing a shortage of hospital beds, ICUs, ventilators. The government has to implement policies to ensure minimum interaction of people and make sure that there are no gatherings. So the lockdown is essential. We cannot let guards down at this point."
As on Sunday noon, 15,340 (66%) of 23,213 total oxygen beds in the city's Covid-19 wards were occupied. Of the 6,415 total ICU beds, 5,728 (89%) were occupied, the government's app on hospital beds showed.
While no new restriction has been imposed this week, no existing restriction has been lifted too. General movement of people and economic activities are prohibited in the lockdown with exemptions for those engaged in essential services and the supply chain of essential goods. Metro services are suspended and public buses have been asked to cater only to essential service providers. When asked if Delhi metro service would resume, the chief minister said: "Restrictions will remain as it is this week."