COVID surge: Delhi records 6,715 new cases, 66 deaths; govt to ramp up medical infrastructure

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New Delhi, Nov 5 (PTI) Delhi recorded 6,715 new COVID-19 cases and 66 fatalities on Thursday, the highest single-day spike in around four months as Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal announced a ban on firecrackers, deployment of mobile testing vans, and augmentation of bed capacity in hospitals to deal with the situation.

Health Minister Satyendar Jain, however, said that the national capital was doing much better than all other metro cities and was on the 17th position in terms of COVID-19 deaths per million population.

'Delhi is on the 17th position in COVID-19 death per million population. Far behind all metro cities,' Jain posted on Twitter.

The positivity rate stood at 12.84 per cent on Thursday while the infection tally rose to over 4.16 lakh even as 66 new fatalities, the highest in around four months, pushed the death toll to 6,769.

The 6,715 fresh cases were detected following 52,294 tests conducted the previous day.

This is the third consecutive day when the number of daily cases has crossed the 6000-mark in the city. Delhi reported 6,842 cases on Wednesday, the maximum till date, and 6,725 cases on Tuesday.

The city had recorded over 5,000 daily cases for five days on the trot, ending Sunday when the count stood at 5,664. In an official statement, the Delhi government said from day one of the pandemic, it has worked around the clock to keep a check on the fatality rate.

The Delhi government has also stringently implemented the lockdown rules in the city and with time, aggressively increased the testing capacity, it said.

Earlier in the day, the chief minister held a meeting to review preparedness to deal with the surging cases and announced a ban on firecrackers, including green crackers.

In wake of rising pollution and COVID-19 cases in Delhi due to the festival season, the Delhi government has decided to put a complete ban on the sale, purchase, and use of firecrackers in the city from November 7 to November 30, the statement said.

'Reviewed corona situation in Delhi and preparedness with Chief Secy, Health officials and all DMs. Corona cases have increased due to festival season and pollution. It was decided to: 1. Ban crackers in Delhi, 2. Ramp up medical infra, Oxygen and ICU beds are being increased in Delhi govt hospitals,' Kejriwal said in a tweet.

On Thursday, the Delhi government decided to augment the bed capacity in its hospitals and deploy mobile testing vans at markets and crowded places across the national capital in view of a sudden spike in the number of COVID-19 cases.

'In the meeting, it was also decided to augment the bed capacity in the Delhi government hospitals. The medical infrastructure will be ramped up, with an increase in the oxygen and ICU beds in the Delhi government hospitals for COVID-19 patients,' the statement said.

It stated that the AAP government has also decided to increase targeted testing at crowded places such as markets, adding that mobile testing vans will be deployed in such areas. The testing can be availed free of cost by the people at these places.

Earlier in the day, Kejriwal had said that the COVID-19 situation is deteriorating in Delhi due to the rising air pollution and appealed to the people not to burst firecrackers, and instead join him and his ministers in a 'Laxmi Pujan' programme to be organised by the AAP government on Diwali.

Addressing an online media briefing, Kejriwal said he along with his cabinet ministers will perform the ceremony at 7.39 pm on November 14 and urged Delhiites to join them from their homes by watching it on television and online mode while performing the rituals at the same time.

The chief minister said that at present, Delhi has been facing two issues -- the COVID-19 pandemic and the rising air pollution -- and stressed that the AAP government is making all efforts to deal with the situation.

Delhi's air quality on Thursday dropped to its worst level since December last year, with farm fires accounting for 42 per cent of its pollution, the maximum in this season so far, according to data from central government agencies. PTI GVS VIT BUN RHL