Record 240 COVID deaths in Delhi, over 23000 fresh cases

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New Delhi, Apr 19 (PTI) Delhi on Monday recorded 240 deaths due to COVID-19, the highest since the pandemic began over a year ago, and 23,686 cases with a positivity rate of 26.12 per cent, according to data shared by the Health Department.

As the coronavirus crisis deepened further, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal announced a six-day lockdown in the national capital from 10 pm on Monday till 5 am on April 26.

He said it was necessary to deal with the rising number of COVID-19 cases as the city's health system was stretched to its limit.

The announcement, which came at the end of a weekend curfew, bought back the memories of last year's lockdown and triggered usual responses from people -- migrant workers rushing to railway stations and bus terminals in a bid to return home, residents flocking to markets to stock up on essentials, and tipplers joining in long, serpentine queues outside liquor stores.

The city has reported 823 deaths due to the deadly virus in the last five days.

On Sunday, the city had witnessed the biggest jump in its daily COVID-19 tally with 25,462 fresh cases, while the positivity rate had shot up to 29.74 per cent.

Authorities had reported 161 deaths due to the disease a day ago.

On Saturday, 24,375 COVID-19 cases and 167 deaths were reported in the city.

The city witnessed 141 deaths on Friday and 112 on Thursday. With the fresh cases, the national capital's cumulative tally has risen to 8,77,146. The death toll stands at 12,361, according to the latest bulletin.

A total of 90,696 tests, including 68,778 RT-PCR tests and 21918 rapid antigen tests, were conducted the previous day, the bulletin said.

So far, over 7.87 lakh patients have recovered in Delhi, it added. The number of active cases in the city increased to 76,887 from 74,941 the day before, the bulletin stated.

Meanwhile, thousands of migrant workers gathered at the city's inter-state bus terminals and railway stations to return home even though Kejriwal appealed to them with folded hands not to leave Delhi and gave a word of assurance -- 'Main hoon na' (I am here for you).

The announcement of a week-long lockdown led to people flocking to markets to stock groceries, essentials and run other errands.

Meanwhile, traders' associations welcomed the six-day lockdown.

'It was a much-needed step to break the chain of infection,” said Praveen Khandelwal, secretary general of the Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT).

Long, serpentine queues were seen outside liquor shops in Delhi soon after the announcement of lockdown on Monday, with tipplers braving the sun for hours and occasionally breaking into heated arguments.

Delhi has been reporting around 25,000 COVID-19 cases daily in the past few days.

A weekend curfew was in force in the national capital from Friday evening to Monday morning.

The government on Monday set up a committee to ensure 'rational' use of oxygen for treatment of COVID-19 patients, according to an order.

Hospitals in the city have been grappling with depleting supply of medical oxygen.

The order issued by the Health Department said the 'Oxygen Audit Committee' will identify areas of wasteful consumption.

Kejriwal had on Sunday termed the shortage of oxygen for coronavirus patients an 'emergency'.

He had also written to Union Minister of Commerce and Industries Piyush Goyal, seeking his intervention in the matter. PTI VIT GVS GJS BUN SMN SMN