Kejriwal calls for extreme caution as Delhi records highest single-day spike of 10,774 COVID cases

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New Delhi, Apr 11 (PTI) Delhi recorded 10,774 fresh COVID-19 cases on Sunday, the highest single-day surge in the national capital till date, with Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal issuing a stark warning for residents that they should not step out of their homes unless it is urgent.

Asserting that the COVID-19 situation in Delhi is 'very serious', the chief minister said the government is closely monitoring the situation and is not in favour of complete lockdown.

According to a bulletin issued by the health department on Sunday, 48 new fatalities were recorded, pushing the coronavirus death toll to 11,283.

The fresh cases came out of the record over 1.14 lakh tests conducted the previous day, the bulletin said, adding that the positivity rate stood at 9.43 per cent.

The previous highest single-day spike in Delhi -- 8,593 cases -- was reported on November 11 last year, while on November 19, the city had recorded 131 COVID-19 deaths, the highest single-day fatality count till date.

'The fourth wave is more dangerous than the previous wave. The government is closely monitoring the situation,' Kejriwal told a press conference here.

In just a few weeks, Delhi has gone from near-normalcy -- with less than 100 cases reported on a single day on February 16 -- to an exploding pandemic, a grim reminder that the virus is continuing to extract its toll.

Kejriwal said the current wave of the pandemic in the city is 'very dangerous' and is spreading at such a rapid rate that it has left many people baffled.

'Cases have escalated in a big way in the last 10-15 days. And, in the past 24 hours, the city has recorded 10,732 cases. The situation is very serious,' he said earlier in the day.

The CM said his government does not want to impose lockdown in Delhi, but such a situation may arise if there is a rush to hospitals and beds are unavailable for serious patients.

'We need your cooperation. If your cooperation is received and the situation of hospitals is under control, there will be no need to impose lockdown in Delhi. But, if beds in the hospitals fall short and are unavailable, then lockdown may have to be imposed,' he said.

The AAP supremo said lockdown should be imposed by any government only when its hospital system collapses.

'I am not in favour of lockdown. I believe lockdown is not a solution to deal with COVID-19. It should be imposed if the hospital system collapses,' he said.

The chief minister, however, asked people to remain in home-isolation if infected with the virus instead of rushing to hospitals, saying the most important thing is keeping hospital beds vacant for serious patients.

He said there was a peculiar contradiction that despite vaccine availability in the country, the infection was spreading fast.

'According to the data available with me, 65 per cent COVID-19 patients are below 45 years. How will coronavirus stop when 65 per cent of the affected are below 45 years of age for whom there is no vaccination?' he wondered.

Kejriwal said in a recent meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, two to three chief ministers requested that the restrictions on vaccination be lifted.

'Our government is ready to vaccinate people door-to-door. The time is to launch vaccination at a war footing by lifting restrictions of age and setting up vaccination centres,' he said.

He said that experts say that despite receiving the vaccine, people may get infected with COVID-19, but they will not be seriously ill. So, people need to wear masks and observe all the precautions even after getting vaccinated, he said.

The CM noted that his government is keeping an eye on the situation, and he is personally monitoring it.

'We are doing whatever needs to be done and getting help from everyone, including the central government,“ he said.

The CM, citing complaints of unavailability of beds in hospitals, suggested people to refer to the Delhi government mobile application in this regard.

'It is a request that you must not run to private hospitals. Good treatment will be provided even in government hospitals. If the app shows that beds are available in government hospitals, please go there,” he appealed.

He, however, insisted that people should go to hospitals only when it is really needed.

'If everyone starts to run towards the hospitals, we will fall short of beds and ICUs. Go to the hospitals only if it is necessary. Otherwise, stay in home isolation. Delhi has the best home isolation system in the world,” he said.

Kejriwal reiterated that the fourth peak of COVID-19 was highly contagious and it was needed to keep hospital beds vacant for serious patients.

'I have seen how in some foreign countries, hospitals ran short. It is such a contagious disease that if we fall short of hospitals, it would become a serious problem,” he maintained.

The CM asked all political parties to work together to fight the pandemic, saying it was not the time to do politics and point fingers. He also appealed to religious and social organisations and NGOs to contribute in the fight against the virus and check its spread.