New Delhi, Nov 16 (PTI) Delhi Health Minister Satyendar Jain on Monday said there is no chance of reimposition of lockdown in the national capital since the third wave of coronavirus has peaked out in the city.
Talking to reporters, he said the virus cannot be contained through lockdown and that people should protect themselves by wearing face masks.
Delhi has witnessed a spurt in coronavirus cases since October 28 when the daily rise breached the 5,000-mark for the first time and it crossed the 8,000-mark on Wednesday.
On Thursday, 104 deaths, the highest in over five months, were recorded in the city.
Asked whether the lockdown would be reimposed in Delhi, Jain said, 'No chance.' 'I can tell you that the peak of the third wave is gone,' he said.
'Positivity rate is the main indicator in assessing the COVID-19 situation and it had to be observed over a week's time. First peak was in June, when it stood at nearly 37 per cent, in September when the second wave happened, it was 12-13 per cent, and in the third wave, it was at its high, at 15 per cent few days ago and then falling. Yesterday, also it was around 15 per cent. So, I can say, the peak is gone,' Jain said.
Jain's remarks come a day after the Centre announced a slew of steps including making available 300 additional ICU beds, doubling the number of daily RTPCR tests and a house-to-house survey in the national capital to check the spiralling numbers of cases in Delhi.
Union Home Minister Amit Shah said some of the hospitals under the municipal corporations of Delhi will be converted into dedicated COVID hospitals. The National Centre for Disease Control, in a report drafted recently, had warned that Delhi needed to be prepared for about 15,000 fresh COVID-19 cases per day, taking into account the winter-related respiratory problems, a large influx of patients from outside and festive gatherings.
Asked about availability of beds, he said, about 50 per cent of the over 16,000 beds are available, and the issue is only of ICU beds, even in private hospitals.
'We had requested the Centre to augment ICU beds in Centre-run hospitals here. And, it has been assured that about 750 ICU beds in such hospitals will be arranged,' Jain told reporters.
The Delhi health minister reiterated that the number of cases have proportionately increased as 'we are conducting tests on a massive scale'.
On the large number of COVID-19 deaths, including 95 recorded on Sunday, he said 'the average number of deaths in last ten days is still a little above 1 per cent, which is fine as per WHO standards' On challans being imposed for COVID-19 safety norms violations, he said penalties worth about Rs 45 crore have been imposed in the last several days on people who have violated the guidelines, like not wearing masks or not observing social distancing.
He said observing rituals of Chhath Puja has been banned on ghats owing to 'scientific reasons' as 4-5 infected people can spread the virus to a large number of people through water bodies, so 'we can't risk public health'.
Asked about Delhi BJP raising the issue of Chhath activity not allowed at ghats, 'The BJP have to oppose everything. We did Diwali pujan, so they opposed, then on crackers, and now on Chhat. They just have to oppose, everything we do'.
On the situation in markets, he said festival season has almost ended, so shopping activity should be dull too.
'But, problem is many people are not feeling afraid of this virus at all, and some people are too scared. We have to strike a balance,' Jain said.
Asked about allegation that some private facilities are charging exorbitantly again for COVID-19 treatment, he said action will be taken if any such issue is brought to the government's notice, and proven true. PTI BUN KND AAR AAR