By Devjyot Ghoshal and Shilpa Jamkhandikar
NEW DELHI, Nov. 17 (Reuters) – As the Indian capital battles its worst phase of the coronavirus pandemic, authorities on Tuesday drew up plans to reinstate some brakes, such as lockdowns of some markets, if necessary, although ‘elsewhere in the country new infections are falling.
India added 29,163 cases in the past 24 hours, its lowest such increase since at least mid-July, government data showed, bringing its number of infections to 8.87 million, just behind the United States, and a death toll of 130,519.
Infections and deaths have fallen from the peak in mid-September, but the situation is different in Delhi, a city of 20 million people plagued by air pollution, where crowds flocked to markets for the Hindu festival of Diwali last week. With his palms clasped during a live Twitter broadcast, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal pleaded for people to wear masks and maintain their social distancing.
“If … we find that social distancing and the wearing of masks are not tracked in any bazaar and there is a possibility that these areas will become a hotspot, we should be allowed to shut them down for a few days,” he said. -he adds.
Kejriwal said he wrote to federal authorities seeking permission to impose the curbs.
Since mid-May, the capital has gradually opened markets and closed public transport at the start of the pandemic.
Delhi, which recorded its highest infections and deaths last week, reported a drop in new infections on Monday to 3,797, but federal officials have warned it to be ready for up to 15,000 cases per day. With a popular time of year for weddings approaching, Kejriwal’s government has also called on federal authorities to further reduce the number of guests at these celebrations from 200 to 50.
The Delhi government’s online tracker showed only 116 beds available, out of a total of 1,327 in intensive care units equipped with a ventilator. Federal officials have promised to make hundreds more available soon.
Delhi’s air contains high levels of tiny pollutants the size of known as PM 2.5, which doctors say can enter the nose to weaken the inner lining of the lungs and help the coronavirus spread. .
FACTBOX-Worldwide coronavirus cases cross 54.55 million, death toll at 1,319,855
COVID-19 cases in major Indian cities
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