NEW DELHI LOCKED DOWN FOR ONE WEEK DUE TO COVID SURGE
New Delhi announced a one-week lockdown on Monday after a record surge in cases overburdened the Indian capital's healthcare infrastructure, Siddharta Kumar reported for Deutsche Presse-Agentur (dpa).
Overall, India registered 273,810 fresh coronavirus infections and 1,619 deaths on Monday, a new daily record amid a second wave of the pandemic. The latest figures took the total caseload to 15 million, with 178,769 deaths so far, the Health Ministry website showed.
New Delhi, the worst hit among Indian cities, will enter lockdown until April 26, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal announced, warning the city's resources were almost at a breaking point in the escalating COVID-19 crisis.
New Delhi and several of the country's worst-affected states, including western Maharashtra, have complained of shortages of medical oxygen, beds, and COVID-19 medicines in hospitals.
"If we don't impose a lockdown now, we might face a bigger calamity. We took this tough decision taking the situation into consideration," Kejriwal said.
"The six-day lockdown will help us arrange more beds and supplies."
Kejriwal said intensive care unit beds were almost all used up and oxygen levels were critically low in the city. "We are not trying to scare you ... I won't say the health system has collapsed, but it is really stressed. There are limits to any system," he said.
Sports complexes and hotels have been turned into facilities to treat COVID-19 patients, officials said. Government offices and essential services, like hospitals, drug stores, and grocery shops are to remain open during the lockdown. New Delhi imposed a weekend curfew but nonetheless reported its highest single-day spike 25,462 cases in the past 24 hours.