338 fresh COVID-19 cases in Delhi; 2nd train Shramik Special train leaves for Bihar

New Delhi, May 8 (PTI) With 338 fresh cases and two fatalities on Friday, the total number of coronavirus cases in the national capital rose to 6,318 and the death toll to 68, while the second Shramik Special train left the city for Bihar's Muzzafarpur with 1,200 stranded migrants on board.

Also, an Air India flight brought home 234 Indian nationals from Singapore as part of the government's Vande Bharat Mission. The Boeing-787 landed at the Delhi airport around 11:45 am.

The Delhi government has said that it will pay for train travel of migrant workers stranded in the city to their native places if their home states don't respond to its communication on this matter.

According to guidelines, the Centre and the home state of migrant workers are to share the cost of the travel.

The Delhi government has already reached out to the respective states with the list of migrant workers stranded in the national capital, it said in a statement.

'Most of these states are yet to respond on the matter of bearing the travel costs of these stranded people. The Delhi government has taken the decision to bear the cost to avoid any further inconvenience to stranded workers,' it added.

In a tweet, Delhi Transport Minister Kailash Gahlot said, 'The second Shramik Special train has left Delhi for Muzzafarpur. This train is carrying 1,200 passengers.' The first batch of passengers from Delhi was ferried to Madhya Pradesh's Chhatarpur on Thursday. More Shramik Special trains from Delhi to different states are likely to be arranged in the coming days.

The train with 24 coaches with around 50 passengers in each was delayed by almost an hour while following protocols laid down to prevent spread of the respiratory infection.

There were many who had filled forms to go back to their native states and had come to the station hoping that they would be allowed to board the train. But they were sent back as their names did not figure in the list of passengers.

As for the Indians landing at Delhi Airport, they were screened and triaged for possible coronavirus infection. After immigration and customs formalities, they headed towards paid quarantine facilities where they will spend 14 days, before going home.

In one of the largest evacuation exercises since the 1990 Kuwait airlift, the Centre has launched the Vande Bharat Mission to bring home thousands of Indians stranded abroad. More than 60 flights are to be operated during the exercise between May 7 and 13.

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal in a tweet said all arrangements have been made for Indians returning home from abroad.

'Those belonging to Delhi will stay at 8-10 hotels that have been readied in New Delhi, south and southeast Delhi as well as in Aerocity, as paid quarantine facilities,' a government official said.

Nearly 20 buses, including that of DTC and UP, Haryana and Punjab transport corporations, were deployed at the Indira Gandhi International Airport to carry the passengers to quarantine facilities.

As per the standard operating procedure, resident commissioners and nodal officers will take care of people of their respective states regarding their transport and quarantine. Several medical teams drawn from municipal corporations were deployed to screen the passengers at the airport.

With hotels being used as quarantine facilities, the apex body of resident welfare associations in Delhi urged Lieutenant Governor Anil Baijal and CM Kejriwal to reconsider the decision.

The RWAs said the decision to turn 78 hotels in Karol Bagh into quarzantine facilities should be rescinded.

The letter from United Resident Welfare Association Joint Action (URJA) President Atul Goyal to the L-G and CM said though the residents 'support the decision to bring back our own citizens, yet we are concerned about our own safety and avoidable exposure to the risk of contracting the virus'.

Health Minister Satyendar Jain said a 400-bed hospital in northwest Delhi's Burari will start functioning as a COVID-19 care centre in the next two to three days to augment health infrastructure.

About AIIMS Delhi Director Dr Randeep Guleria's prediction that India's COVID-19 cases are likely to peak in June-July, he said, 'Earlier also prediction were made, but the cases are less. If they say that COVID-19 cases will peak in June, it might happen. Patterns of other countries are also similar.' Asked about COVID-19 patients, who had attended the Markaz event in Nizamuddin area and have now recovered, Jain said they are being discharged on orders.

Nearly 4,000 Tablighi Jamaat members in Delhi have completed their quarantine period. Among them, travel of foreigners whose visa may have expired will be handled by the External Affairs Ministry, he said.

Jain also said the Delhi government has ordered that all COVID-19 test reports to be given within 24 hours, failing which the labs will not be allowed to conduct tests.

Meanwhile, booze lovers continued to throng liquor shops in the city, even as the e-token system introduced by the Delhi government could not fully take off due to heavy traffic on the designated website. Many people who tried to register for e-token met with failures despite repeated attempts.

Jain, who also holds charge of the Home department, said there were some issues with the website and those are being worked out.

According to an official, the government is also considering options of contactless sale of liquor such as home delivery, during the lockdown period. PTI VIT ASG KND GVS PR NSD