Delhi CM seeks power from Centre to impose lockdown at markets that may emerge as COVID hotspots

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New Delhi, Nov 17 (PTI) Amid a spurt in coronavirus cases in Delhi, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Tuesday sought the power from the Centre to clamp a lockdown at those markets that may emerge as COVID-19 hotspots in the city and decided to withdraw an order allowing 200 guests to attend wedding functions.

Addressing an online media briefing, Kejriwal said the Delhi government has sent a proposal to Lieutenant Governor (LG) Anil Baijal to allow only 50 people to attend wedding ceremonies against the earlier limit of 200.

'According to directions and guidelines of the Centre, 200 participants were earlier allowed at wedding ceremonies due to a decreasing number of coronavirus cases.

'Now, a proposal has been sent to the LG for his approval to withdraw the previous order and bring the number of guests at wedding ceremonies back to 50 from 200,' he said.

The chief minister said the Centre and all agencies are making 'double efforts' to control the COVID-19 situation in the national capital.

'We are sending a proposal to the Centre to give the power to the Delhi government to impose a lockdown at the market areas that may emerge as COVID-19 hotspots,' he said.

Asked to comment on this, Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan told a press briefing here that there is a laid-down procedure for any such restriction to be imposed.

'If a proposal is received by the Delhi Disaster Management Authority, chaired by the LG, it will be discussed there.

'If the Centre receives a proposal in this regard through the LG, it will be examined,' he said.

Kejriwal said during Diwali, many people were seen not wearing masks and violating the social-distancing norms due to which the virus spread.

'I hope the crowd at the markets will thin out and there will be no need to lock these places down.

'However, if violations of mask-wearing and social distancing are witnessed and there is a chance of these markets becoming local coronavirus hotspots, these could be shut down as a preventive measure for some days,' he added.

On Monday, Delhi Health Minister Satyendar Jain had said there was no chance that a lockdown will be reimposed in the national capital since the third wave of the virus has peaked out in the city.

He had also said the virus cannot be contained through a lockdown and people should protect themselves by wearing face masks.

At Tuesday's media briefing, Kejriwal thanked the Centre for helping the people of Delhi in 'such difficult times' and appealed to Delhiites with folded hands to wear masks and follow the social-distancing norms.

He said the availability of COVID-19 beds in government and private hospitals is satisfactory and thanked the Centre for its promise to arrange 750 ICU beds at a DRDO facility.

'All the stakeholders, including the Delhi government, the Centre and various agencies, are making double efforts to bring COVID-19 under control, but people need to wear masks and maintain social distancing.

'All this is being done for you and your family. So I appeal to you, please, please, please wear face masks and follow social distancing,' the chief minister said.

The coronavirus does not differentiate between the rich and the poor and it can infect anyone, but some people think they may not contract the virus, he added.

Delhi witnessed a spurt in coronavirus cases since October 28 when the daily cases breached the 5,000-mark for the first time. It crossed the 8,000-mark on November 11.

On November 12, 104 coronavirus-related deaths, the highest in over five months, were recorded in the city.

On Monday, Delhi recorded 3,797 fresh COVID-19 cases, taking the infection tally in the national capital to over 4.89 lakh, even as 99 new fatalities pushed the death toll to 7,713.

The relatively low number of fresh cases came out of the 29,871 tests conducted on Sunday. PTI VIT BUN PLB RC RC