Chief minister Arvind Kejriwal said a lockdown would be in place from Monday evening till the morning of 26 April as the capital recorded more than 25,000 new Covid-19 cases on Sunday. He said the positivity rate, which has increased to 29.74 per cent, is a major cause of concern.
The number of cases in India has been steadily rising with over 270,000 cases reported in the past 24 hours. Deaths related to Covid-19 rose by a record 1,619 to reach a total of 178,769.
Prime minister Narendra Modi is reviewing the situation and also holding a meeting to discuss the rising number of coronavirus cases.
Epidemiologists and doctors have warned that the second surge in India is being driven by variants of the virus. All India Institute of Medical Sciences has found that one patient is now infecting up to nine in 10 contacts, compared with up to four last year, according to Reuters.
A new variant, called the double mutant, has been identified in samples from 10 states and officials have said it is likely more infectious.
During the Delhi lockdown, the government said essential services will continue. “If a lockdown is not imposed now, Delhi might face a bigger calamity,” Mr Kejriwal said.
Weddings scheduled during the week will be allowed to go ahead, but the number of guests will be capped at 50, he said. The government order stated that people going for Covid-19 test or vaccination will be allowed after producing a valid i-card.
Electronic and print media will also be allowed. All persons engaged in essential services will be exempted. These include medical personnel, government officials, police, disaster management and related services personnel and judicial officers.
Public transport will only be allowed to operate for the transportation of exempted people. Private offices, shops, shopping malls, movie theatres, restaurants, parks, gyms, swimming pools have been ordered shut.
The lockdown comes as Delhi exited a weekend curfew that was imposed amidst an alarming surge in infections. The chief minister had on Sunday voiced concerns over the shortage of oxygen supply and ICU beds.
He said there were less than 100 ICU beds left in Delhi and the government had written to the Central government for help.