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Lockdown not on cards after Omicron case, says Delhi health minister Jain

Hindustan Times logo Hindustan Times 07-12-2021 HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times,New Delhi
Delhi health minister Satyendar Jain. (ANI Photo) © Provided by Hindustan Times Delhi health minister Satyendar Jain. (ANI Photo)

A day after the first case of the Omicron variant of the coronavirus was detected in the national capital, Delhi health minister Satyendar Jain on Monday said a lockdown was not on the cards at the moment, and that the graded response action plan to combat Covid-19 will come into action if the number of cases starts increasing, as chief minister Arvind Kejriwal urged residents of the city not to panic.

“There is no possibility of a lockdown at the moment. The graded response action plan will be implemented if Covid-19 cases start increasing,” said Jain. The plan has levels of restrictions such as closure of restaurants, malls, offices, and educational institutes as the positivity rate – proportion of samples that return positive – increases. Hospitals have also been asked to scale up their Covid-19 infrastructure accordingly. The graded response action plan is a mechanism similar to one used to fight air pollution.

It classifies outbreak severity into four bands – yellow, amber, orange and red – with each representing a more severe outbreak and, thus, stricter curbs than the one preceding it.

Private offices, malls, weekly markets and the Metro will be shut down if the test positivity rate (TPR) rises above 2%, and the city will be put under a curfew if the number breaches 5%, according to the action plan, which was approved by the Delhi Disaster Management Authority (DDMA).

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Jain added that 27 people who are suspected to have been infected with the Omicron variant have been admitted to Lok Nayak hospital. Of them, 17 have been confirmed to have Covid-19 either through RT-PCR or Rapid Antigen Test. The results of genomic sequencing for the rest are awaited.

The first Omicron case was detected in Delhi on Sunday, and so far 23 cases have been genotyped across the country.

The variant was first detected in South Africa towards the end of November and has since been detected in several countries.

Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal urged people not to panic because of the variant.

“The Omicron variant of the coronavirus has now entered India. We are constantly receiving news regarding patients being found in this region, that region, and even in Delhi. However, I would like to tell everyone that there is no need to panic or lose sleep over it. I am constantly monitoring the situation and progress being made to deal with the possible threat of the spread of Omicron,” he said in a digital press briefing on Monday.

“I held a review meeting last week as well in relation to this, where we took account of all the necessary health facilities and their status, from beds to oxygen to medicines and all other necessary equipment. We are prepared to provide all this and other required material in sufficient quantity and on time. So there’s no need to get stressed or panic. But keep doing your part – continue social distancing and never step out without wearing a mask,” Kejriwal added.

On November 30, Kejriwal held a meeting to review the state’s preparedness against Covid in case a third wave emerges in the country. Kejriwal had then announced that 30,000 Covid-19 beds are ready in Delhi, with 100 beds per ward to be arranged as and when required on a two-week notice taking the total bed capacity of Delhi to over 64,000 beds. Additionally, 6,800 ICUs will also be ready very soon. Medicine stocks are currently being added, and home isolation arrangements are being strengthened. Oxygen supply and storage is being bolstered, with extra storage facilities of 442 MT, and production of 121 MT oxygen within Delhi. Additionally, telemetry devices to provide real time oxygen tracking are being installed in all oxygen facilities. Around 6,000 oxygen cylinders have been imported and 15 oxygen tankers bought to prevent oxygen shortage, the CM then said.

The Delhi government has issued a Covid helpline number – 1031, to help Covid patients during any problem. This helpline number works 24x7. It employs employees in three shifts, who can attend 600 to 700 calls.

Jain added that more than 93.9% of people have received the first dose of the Covid-19 vaccine and more than 61.3% both doses. He also added that the chief minister had written to the Centre urging them to ban flights from affected countries for some time to prevent the disease from spreading.

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