At the outset, let me caution all of you that if we continue to defy Covid protocol, a situation may develop where lockdown may be enforced again in Delhi. The present situation is such that lockdown may become a necessity. Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal has clearly said that if people do not stop crowding market places, lockdown in crowded markets may be enforced soon.
Kejriwal has sought the Centre’s permission to go ahead with lockdown in ‘hotspot’ markets where Covid guidelines are being violated. Already, Delhi government has restricted number of guests at weddings and social functions from 200 to 50.
The Covid situation in Delhi is alarming. After showing a declining trend from the last week of September till October 12, Delhi has witnessed an unabated rise in the number of new and active Covid cases, resulting in shortage of ICU beds in hospitals. The Centre had to step in with help from DRDO to augment the number of ICU beds for Covid patients in Delhi.
Delhi’s population is presently a little more than 2 crores, roughly 1.5 per cent of India’s population. Thirteen per cent of new Covid cases in India are now being reported from Delhi. There have been roughly 100 Covid-related deaths in Delhi daily for the last two days. Every fourth person presently dying in India of Covid is from Delhi.
In November alone, 1,300 people died of Covid in Delhi and among them diabetics are the worst-hit. The number of Covid-related deaths in Delhi has reached 7,812., while the total tally of Covid cases has crossed 4.95 lakhs with 6.396 cases reported on Tuesday.
According to data shared by hospital on Delhi Corona App, 90 per cent ICU beds with ventilator support are presently occupied and 88 per cent ICU beds without ventilator speed are currently occupied. Covid patients having critical symptoms are running from one hospital to another in search of ICU beds.
The most worrying part is that people in Delhi know Corona is a serious disease, there are no medicines for cure or prevention, and the vaccine is not yet ready. Yet most of the people crowding market places have this false belief that they will remain untouched while others may suffer from Corona.
Such people are putting the entire society at risk. Because of the vanity and irresponsible attitude of such people, the days of April to June may return to Delhi, when roads, markets and offices will again look deserted due to strict lockdown.
At a time when other cities and states of India are witnessing a gradual fall in number of Covid cases, Delhi stands out as an exception. Nobody loves to enforce a lockdown, but the visuals that we have shown on India TV of crowds in big markets of Delhi for the last several weeks should serve as a warning. Sarojini Nagar, Lajpat Nagar, Chandni Chowk, Sadar Bazar, Chawdi Bazar, Gandhi Nagar and similar other markets had been witnessing huge crowds daily.
Most of the people do not wear masks. Social distancing in such a crowd is out of the question. While violators give umpteen number of excuses for not wearing masks, they should watch visuals of the number of bodies that are reaching the crematoriums of Delhi.
In June, when the pandemic was at its peak, there were, on average, 75 Covid-related deaths daily in Delhi, and now it has shot up to almost one hundred.
Because of the surge in the number of deaths, there is acute shortage of space in cemeteries and there are long queues of people waiting with bodies outside crematoriums. There are daily 20 to 25 Covid-related cremations at Nigam Bodh Ghat, while this number was hardly between 5 and 7 ten days ago.
The Ghat has both electric and CNG crematoriums, but because of the rush, permission has now been given to cremate bodies even on wooden pyres.
Our reporter visited the Jadeed Qabristan near Delhi’s ITO, and found that the ten bighas of land allotted for burying Covid victims is now almost full. If the momentum continues, the cemetery may run out of space in the last twenty days for giving victims a decent burial.
Nobody is quite sure why there has been a sudden surge in the number of Covid cases in Delhi. Apart from the reason cited about huge crowds in markets, the other reason being given is about the severe air pollution that has taken Delhi in its grip during the last one month.
There are also experts who cite the onset of winter resulting in many cases of cough and cold. The average Delhite is wondering what to do: even if one stays at home, spread of droplets from somebody coughing could be infectious.
My advice is: better stay at home, avoid going to crowded places and meeting people, always wear a mask when you step outside and maintain at least six feet distancing. This will help all of us to tide over the present crisis. The present peak in Delhi is bound to decline, but keep patience, have courage and stick to guidelines. Most of the vaccines are in the final stages of trial. The sooner the vaccine comes, the better. Let us hope for the best.
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