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Delhi Recommends Ending Weekend Curfew, Restrictions On Markets

Delhi Recommends Ending Weekend Curfew, Restrictions On Markets

Weekend curfews had been ordered in Delhi from January 1 (File)

New Delhi:

The Delhi government on Friday recommended lifting of weekend curfews – ordered from 10 pm Fridays to 5 am Mondays – in the national capital in view of declining Covid cases. The file has been forwarded to the office of Lieutenant Governor Anil Baijal for his approval.

Shops and commercial establishments, which had been allowed to operate on the odd-even basis to limit crowds in public spaces, can now open on all days. Private offices, told to shift to WFH, or ‘work from home’, mode where possible, can now function with 50 per cent attendance.

During weekend curfew hours, only those involved in essential services and those facing an emergency situation could step out, and only with government passes or valid identity cards. All shops, except those dealing in essential items such as groceries and medicines, had to close.

Metro services and public buses operated at full capacity, but without standing commuters.

Delhi on Thursday reported 12,306 new cases – a drop of 10.72 per cent over the previous 24 hours. There were, however, 43 confirmed deaths – the most since June last year, when 44 people had died.

Reported COVID-19 cases in the national capital have seen a marked decline over the past few days – from a peak of nearly 30,000 on January 14 to fewer than 13,000 yesterday.

The seven-day average of new cases has dropped from a high of over 23,000 to 16,000 yesterday.

However, the city still has nearly 70,000 active Covid cases and a positivity rate (the number of cases detected per 100 tests) greater than 20 per cent, both of which are cause for concern.

The silver lining is that of the active cases, over 53,000 are in home isolation, which reduces the burden placed on the national capital’s hospital infrastructure; nearly 13,000 beds in Covid care facilities remain vacant, leaving the city with wiggle room if faced with more severe infections.

To encourage testing and rapid identification of Covid cases, the Delhi government has also reduced rates of RT-PCR tests and RAT, or rapid antigen tests. The former is capped at Rs 300 per test (down from Rs 500) with home collection tests at Rs 500, and the latter at Rs 100 (down from Rs 300).

Delhi Health Minister Satyendar Jain on Sunday sought to allay fears over the declining number of tests being conducted, saying that, in fact, the city was conducting three times more than the number recommended by the ICMR, or Indian Council for Medical Research.

“Delhi has been conducting 60,000 to 1 lakh tests every day,” he said.

Meanwhile, this morning India reported over 3.47 lakh new cases in 24 hours – a nine per cent increase in 24 hours – with positivity rates at a worrying 18 per cent. Over 700 deaths were reported.

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