Covid scales new single-day peak in Delhi with 17,282 cases; Kejriwal to discuss situation with LG

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New Delhi, Apr 14 (PTI) Delhi Wednesday recorded the biggest single-day jump in its COVID-19 tally with 17,282 new cases, while over 100 people died, prompting Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal to call a meeting with Lt Governor Anil Baijal Thursday during which measures to curb the virus spread are expected to be discussed.

Health Minister Satyendar Jain said that COVID-19 cases are rising very rapidly in the national capital and 'there is no slowdown'.

The minister, however, reiterated that lockdown was not a solution to the situation, and advised people to step out only if urgent, avoid gatherings, wear masks and follow COVID-19-appropriate behaviour.

The case positivity rate also jumped to 15.92 per cent, the highest till date.

Sources said that in the planned meeting Thursday, Lieutenant Governor Baijal and Chief Minister Kejriwal are expected to discuss staggered opening of shops and weekly markets, and restricted number of passengers in public transport among other measures.

Also, the timing of night curfew will be discussed. Last week, the AAP government had imposed night curfew from 10 pm to 5 am till April 30.

Earlier this week, Kejriwal had said that lockdown is no solution to slow the spread of coronavirus cases, and that it would be imposed in Delhi only if the 'hospital system collapses'.

According to the latest health bulletin, 104 new fatalities were recorded on Wednesday pushing the death toll to 11,540.

These record new positive cases came out of record 1.08 lakh tests conducted the previous day.

The highest single-day spike in Delhi till the third wave of the pandemic -- 8,593 cases -- was reported on November 11 in 2020, while on November 18, the city had recorded 131 COVID-19 deaths, the highest single-day fatality count till date.

Amid a massive surge in cases, the Delhi government on Wednesday issued an order to ramp up the number of beds reserved for COVID-19 patients at its hospitals and attach banquet halls and hotels to these facilities.

The move will add around 3,269 beds in COVID health facilities in the national capital.

With a sharp rise in deaths due to the latest surge in COVID-19, crematoriums and burial grounds in the city are struggling to manage resources.

According to official figure on confirmed and suspected cases, the virus has killed 513 people in Delhi in the first 14 days of April, while it had claimed 117 lives in the entire month of March and 57 in February.

This substantial rise in the fatality rate has led to a rush of bodies at the city's crematoriums and burial grounds.

Mashqoor Rashid, a member of the management committee of the graveyard at ITO, said the bodies of COVID-19 patients were being sent there from across the city as local cemeteries are getting overwhelmed.

However, Amantullah Khan, the chairman of Delhi Waqf Board which runs several graveyards in the city, said there was no scarcity of land for burials so far. 'We have enough land for burials.' North Delhi mayor Jai Prakash said he has written a letter to Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal seeking his help for arranging land for burials.

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal will discuss the coronavirus situation in the city with the LG during a meeting Thursday, the CM's office said.

'In view of the spread of Covid-19 infection, Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal will discuss the situation with Lieutenant Governor at 11 am on Wednesday,' the Chief Minister's Office tweeted.

Meanwhile, the central government on Wednesday cancelled the CBSE's class 10 board exams and postponed its class 12 exams following an exponential surge in COVID-19 cases, a decision that will affect over 21 lakh students across the country.

This is the first time that the Central Board of Secondary Education has completely cancelled the board exams conducted by it. Last year, the exams were partially cancelled in the wake of riots in northeast Delhi and COVID-19 cases.

The decision on Wednesday was taken at a high-level meeting chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Talking to reporters at his residence, Delhi Health Minister Satyendar Jain said, 'Yesterday, Delhi recorded 13,468 cases and we conducted about 1.2 lakh tests too. The numbers are rapidly rising and rising every day, and there is no slow down in the spread of infection. So, I will advise people to step out only if urgent and needed,' he told reporters here.

Jain said 70-80 patients are being admitted daily to the Lok Nayak Jai Prakash Narayan Hospital.

On Tuesday, the positivity rate rose to 13.14 percent from 12.44 percent a day ago.

A total of 1,08,534 tests, including 73,915 RT-PCR tests and 34,619 rapid antigen tests, were conducted a day ago, according to the latest health bulletin.

The number of cumulative cases as on Wednesday stood at 7,67,438. Over 7.05 lakh patients have recovered from the virus.

The number of active cases stood at 50,736, as per the bulletin. PTI KND GVS GJS VIT BUN BUN TIR TIR