People who arrived from UK being rigorously traced; COVID situation under control in Delhi: Jain

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New Delhi, Dec 23 (PTI) Delhi Health Minister Satyendar Jain on Wednesday said people who have arrived here from the UK are being rigorously traced and those showing even the slightest of COVID-19 symptoms are being tested, even as he asserted that the situation in the city was under control with the positivity rate plummeting to below one per cent.

Interacting with reporters, he also said Delhi now has 'the lowest positivity rate in the entire country'.

The ceasing of flight services to and from the UK was a prompt move by the Centre and will help in containing the spread of the new coronavirus strain detected in that country, he said.

'We are alert and watchful at our end. People who have arrived here from the UK in the last several days are being rigorously traced, and tested if anyone is showing slightest of COVID-like symptoms. A team had been made and house-to-house tracing is being done, and they are being advised self-isolation too,' the minister said.

Delhi recorded 871 fresh COVID-19 cases and 18 new fatalities on Wednesday, even as the positivity rate slipped to 0.99 per cent, authorities said.

The infection tally in the city mounted to over 6.19 lakh and the death toll rose to 10,347, they said.

Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal tweeted in Hindi on Wednesday that the number of COVID-19 deaths has come down a lot which is 'quite satisfactory'.

'This is the result of hardwork of people of Delhi. Congratulations to all the people of Delhi, but don't lower guard, maintain caution,' the CM said.

This is the third consecutive day when the daily cases count has remained below the 1000-mark. On Monday, 803 cases were reported, the lowest since August 17, and 939 on Tuesday.

These 871 cases were detected following 87,861 tests conducted the previous day, including 45,816 RT-PCR tests and 42,045 rapid antigen tests, according to the latest bulletin issued by the Delhi health department.

Jain had on Tuesday said Delhi has fought difficult battles with COVID-19 and all efforts will be made to ensure that the gains made in the management of the pandemic are 'not reversed' due to this new situation in the UK.

'Delhi situation is under control as of now, with less than 1,000 cases being reported for the third successive day and the positivity rate has dropped to less than one per cent, which is the lowest in the last eight months. We will do everything to keep this situation under control,' he said.

Jain said only about 2,800 beds were occupied whereas 50 per cent of ICU beds were available at hospitals.

Asked about the new COVID-19 strain threat and Delhi government's preparedness to combat it, Jain said, 'Only ICMR and scientists can give us insight into this new strain. They say it's more contagious, and some scientists conjecture the coronavirus strain in circulation in India may have already reached the new mutative state'.

'The coronavirus mutates with time, and the best shield from any strain is to wear masks and observe safety norms,' he added.

He reiterated that the Delhi government has made storage and logistics preparations and trained staff too, awaiting arrival of the COVID-19 vaccine.

Asked about the Centre contemplating to not vaccinate children against COVID-19 at this stage, Jain said, 'The idea is to eliminate the virus and the vulnerable sections being preferred first. So healthcare workers, frontline workers, people above 50 years and those below 50 years with serious ailments being the first ones who will get the vaccine'.

Sources on Tuesday had said that an institutional quarantine facility was being set up at the LNJP Hospital for passengers found positive at Delhi airport, amid mounting concern over the new strain of the virus.

The Civil Aviation Ministry on Monday had said all flights from the UK to India and vice versa will remain suspended from Wednesday to December 31 in view of the emergence of a mutated variant of the coronavirus there.

Six passengers travelling on Air India's London-Delhi flight tested positive for COVID-19 on arrival, a senior government official earlier said on Tuesday.

In the last two weeks, about 6000-7000 people have landed at Delhi airport, many of whom would have travelled to other places like Punjab from thereon, Jain said on Tuesday. The number of containment zones in Delhi dropped to 5,501 on Wednesday from 5,833 the previous day, the authorities said.

The bulletin said 6,01,268 patients have recovered, been discharged or migrated so far.

The number of people in home isolation dropped to 4,155 on Wednesday from 4,790 the previous day. PTI KND RDM RDM