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Lockdown in Delhi extended by a week, drop in daily count of Covid cases raises hope

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal the continuation of lockdown in the Capital (Pic: Courtesy Twitter/@ANI) extended for one week".

The lockdown to fight the surge in coronavirus infections in Delhi has been extended by another week due to the high positivity rate. However, there has been some decline in the daily count of infections which provides a ray of hope that the tide may be beginning to turn against the deadly pandemic.

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Sunday said, "Coronavirus still continues to wreak havoc in the city. Public opinion is that the lockdown should continue. So the lockdown is being extended for one week".

“There is 36 per cent to 37 per cent positivity rate, which was not there before,” the Chief Minister said. The positivity rate refers to the percentage of people that test positive for coronavirus in the tests that are carried out.

On Thursday, the city had recorded a positivity rate of 36.24 per cent — the highest since the pandemic reached. While it dropped to 32.27 per cent last evening, the number of fatalities reached a record high of 357.

There was some consolation in that the number of cases have dropped from last week's high of 28,000-plus a day to a little over 24,000. The high caseload has overwhelmed the healthcare services as beds and oxygen are falling short.

"While we have failed to deliver oxygen at some places, in other places we have succeeded… the situation should be under control in the coming few days," the Chief Minister said.

The Centre has increased Delhi's oxygen quota again from 480 to 490 metric tons, but the access problems remain. "The requirement is 700 metric tons and what's reaching us is 330 to 335 metric tonnes only," he said.

To get ahead of the curve, the Delhi government has started a portal for oxygen management. This will record the status of supplies from the manufactures to the hospitals every two hours, he said.

Hospitals will have to give their consumption data in the last two hours and the supplier has to tell how much was supplied in that period, Mr Kejriwal explained.

"With this, the government will know where there is going to be a shortage and it can be corrected," he said. "This will let the government know where there is a shortfall and can be fixed accordingly," he added.

India Air Force moving oxygen on war-footing

Meanwhile, the oxygen situation is likely to improve as the Central government has mobilised the Indian Air Force (IAF) for the speed up the transport of oxygen. An IAF transport plane flew in four super-sized cryogenic oxygen containers from Singapore on Sunday morning to expedite the transport of oxygen in the country.

The IAF is already airlifting oxygen containers, cylinders, essential medicines, equipment required for setting up and sustaining Covid hospitals and facilities in the fight against fresh surge in Covid-19 cases.

The C-17 and IL-76 aircraft of IAF have started airlifting big empty oxygen tanks from their place of use to the filling stations across the country to speed up the distribution of much needed oxygen.

Indian Railways is also moving special trains on high priority to speed up the transport of oxygen which has been diverted from industrial use in steel plants and oil refineries to hospitals.