Delhi govt to hike fines for not wearing masks, increase beds for COVID-19 patients: Kejriwal

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New Delhi, Nov 19 (PTI) Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Thursday announced hiking fines for not using face masks from Rs 500 to Rs 2,000 and increasing the number of beds for COVID-19 patients at hospitals amid a massive COVID-19 surge here.

He also appealed to the people not to celebrate Chhath at ponds and other water bodies in the city.

The chief minister said the Delhi government was implementing from November 19 its decision to reserve 80 per cent of ICU beds in private hospitals for COVID-19 patients.

Private hospitals have also been directed to increase the percentage of non-ICU COVID-19 beds from 50 per cent to 60 per cent, he said in a virtual briefing.

Kejriwal said he met Lt Governor Anil Baijal to apprise him of various steps being taken by the government to check COVID-19, and added that the fine for not wearing masks has been raised from Rs 500 to Rs 2,000.

Arrangements are being made for over 1,400 ICU beds, including 663 in Delhi government hospitals and 750 at a Central government facility, the chief minister said, adding around 7,500 normal and 446 ICU beds are currently available for COVID-19 patients in Delhi.

The hospitals have also been asked to postpone non-critical planned surgeries for the time being, he said.

The chief minister said he received assurance of cooperation from various political parties at an all-party meeting on the COVID-19 situation in Delhi. He said that he urged them to distribute face masks to save people from the infection.

Saying that there should be no politics over COVID-19, he appealed to people not to go to water bodies to perform Chhath Puja and instead celebrate the festival at home.

Even if one COVID-19 infected person enters the water during Chhath Puja, all others might get infected by the virus, the chief minister said.

The Delhi government is being forced to restrict Chhath Puja celebrations at riverbanks, ponds and other public places due to the threat of the infection, he said. PTI VIT IJT