Delhi encountering 4th wave of COVID-19, lockdown not being considered yet: Kejriwal

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New Delhi, Apr 2 (PTI) Delhi is encountering the fourth wave of COVID-19 infection but imposition of a lockdown is not being considered yet, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said on Friday and urged the Centre to allow states to undertake mass vaccination.

If there is a need for a lockdown in the future, a decision will be taken after due public consultation, he said, adding the fourth wave is less serious than the previous ones as there are fewer deaths and hospitalisations this time.

The chief minister, however, added, 'It's a matter of concern since COVID-19 cases are rising exponentially. But there is no need to panic. The government is monitoring the situation and taking all necessary steps.' After a high-level meeting, Kejriwal suggested that the Centre should lift the age bar of 45 years for vaccination to pave the way for mass-level inoculation.

If the Centre allowed vaccination at non-healthcare facilities like schools, immunisation be undertaken on a war footing to check the spread of the virus, he said.

Kejriwal also appealed to the people to wear face masks, maintain social distancing and regularly wash hands to prevent the spread of the virus.

'Going by the current situation, we are not considering imposing a lockdown. We are closely monitoring the situation and such a decision will be taken only after due public consultation,' Kejriwal said in a press briefing.

'India is witnessing a rise in coronavirus cases. Delhi, too, is seeing a surge in COVID-19. On March 16, there were 425 COVID cases in the city. According to the latest report, it has reached 3,583. This might be the second wave for the country, but Delhi is encountering the fourth peak,' he said.

The chief minister said the fourth wave is less serious than the previous one encountered in October last year.

'We saw that in October 3,000 to 4,000 new cases came up daily. At the time, there were around 1,700 patients in ICU. Today it is around 800. The mortality rate was 40 deaths daily, now it is around 10-12. This new wave is less serious,' he said.

Kejriwal said provisions such as ambulance, hospital, ventilator, oxygen, and ICU beds were all discussed in the meeting attended by Health Minister Satyendar Jain and top officials of different departments.

'A plan has been laid down as to at what stages the number of ICU beds in the private and government hospitals would be increased. We have fully planned the course of action.' The main concern was how to prevent the spread of the virus, strengthen the hospital system and carry out mass vaccination, the chief minister said.

He said 71,000 people aged 45 and above were vaccinated on Thursday.

'Our (vaccination) capacity is now 96,000. There was a little apprehension in the beginning with regard to the side effects of vaccination. But four people developed minor reactions and were sent home within two to three hours.' Kejriwal said.

The vaccine is safe. If the Centre permits mass vaccination, then hundreds and thousands of facilities can be created in community centres, schools and such other places, he said, adding adequate measures like provision of ambulance, first aid can be arranged if the Centre lifts restrictions. PTI VIT/GVS NSD NSD