India’s capital territory of Delhi is entering a six-day lockdown as the number of COVID-19 cases hitting the country reaches worrying new levels.
India’s COVID-19 cases have passed 14.8 million cases, making it the country with the second-highest number of cases behind only the United States, which has reached 31 million. New Delhi has become one of the worst affected cities in the country, with another 25,500 cases diagnosed on Sunday alone and spiralling numbers showing almost 1 in 3 tested are being found positive.
There has been a record rise in deaths. On Monday, the numbers went from 1,619 to 178,769.
New Delhi is entering a lockdown for six days, starting (India time) Monday at 10 pm until 5 am next Monday, April 26th. The citywide lockdown will find all social gatherings banned and malls, gyms, restaurants and the like shut. Essential services will remain accessible.
The latest lockdown comes as hospitals and medical supplies have become overwhelmed, pushing New Delhi’s health system to a tipping point. Delhi’s Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said hospitals “have almost no ICU beds left” and that there is “a huge shortage of oxygen”.
“Delhi’s health system is at a breaking point. I will not say it has collapsed but the Covid situation is pretty critical,” Mr Kejriwal said in a televised address.
“I have always been against a lockdown. I believe the lockdown will not finish the virus, but it will reduce the transmission rate. It will give us time to boost our infrastructure. We will use this week-long lockdown to improve our healthcare.”
Mr Kerjirwal made it clear: “If a lockdown isn’t implemented now the situation will go beyond control.”
Criticism of Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been growing following various rallies and religious gatherings where little to no COVID restrictions have been enforced. Thousands have attended various events, including a large West Bengal rally on Saturday in which Mr Modi addressed what he described as “a seam of masses”.
Mr Modi held a meeting on Monday to look at the next steps in tackling the COVID situation. The PM’s sit-down with officials resulted in a number of key decisions being clarified, including a plan to have everyone over the age of 18 vaccinated from May 1st and providing states with the ability to source vaccines directly from manufactures.