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Kejriwal Calls Emergency All-party Meeting as Delhi Records 131 Covid-19 Deaths, Highest Single Day Count

Health workers carry the body of a man who died due to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) for his cremation at a crematorium in New Delhi. (Reuters)

Health workers carry the body of a man who died due to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) for his cremation at a crematorium in New Delhi. (Reuters)

The Arvind Kejriwal-led AAP government is working to add 660 ICU beds in its hospitals in the next few days in Delhi and the Railways will be providing coaches with 800 beds.

The Delhi government has called an emergency meeting on Thursday to discuss the dire coronavirus situation in the national capital as it grapples with a spurt in cases. As many as 7,486 fresh COVID-19 cases were recorded in Delhi on Wednesday with 131 new fatalities, the highest single-day death count till date.

While the total infection tally in the city has been pushed to over five lakh, the death toll stands at 7,943.

The Arvind Kejriwal-led AAP government is working to add 660 ICU beds in its hospitals in the next few days and the Railways will be providing coaches with 800 beds.

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Delhi recorded 7,486 fresh COVID-19 cases on Wednesday, taking the infection tally in the city to over five lakh, while 131 new fatalities, the highest single-day death count till date, pushed the toll to 7,943, authorities said.

With medical facilities under strain, as many as 45 doctors and 160 paramedics of the paramilitary forces have also arrived in the capital to serve the people. A day after Kejriwal spoke of reimposing certain restrictions, the Delhi Disaster Management Authority on Wednesday reverted to the earlier cap of 50 guests at marriage functions instead of 200 allowed through its October 31 order.

The national capital has been witnessing a spurt in coronavirus cases since October 28 when daily cases breached the 5,000-mark for the first time. The single-day rise in cases crossed the 8,000-mark on November 11. The city had recorded 104 deaths in a day on November 12, the highest in five months.

On Thursday, Kejriwal will hold the all-party meeting to discuss the COVID-19 situation in the city, even as Opposition parties said that they would raise issues like "inadequate" testing and press for proper enforcement of precautionary measures. An AAP leader said discussions would be held on the rising cases of COVID-19 cases, and the chief minister would seek cooperation from all party leaders, MPs and MLAs in spreading awareness and advocating COVID-appropriate behaviour in their constituencies.

Delhi BJP president Adesh Gupta said he will attend the meeting, but added the move has come late. "I will suggest the AAP government strictly enforce COVID-19 safety measures like using face masks and social distancing in the markets instead of talking about lockdown. I will also ask the chief minister to improve facilities like ICU beds at its hospitals in Delhi so that more patients can be treated there," Gupta said.

DPCC chief Anil Chaudhary will also attend the all-party meeting on Thursday. "We have been raising the issue of inadequate testing. Besides this, we will also raise the issue of ban on Chhath Puja at public places in the meeting," Chaudhary said.

Meanwhile, the chief minister visited GTB Hospital and said that over 660 ICU beds will be added in various Delhi government hospitals in the next few days in view of the surge in COVID-19 cases in the city. He said, "We had a meeting with doctors at GTB Hospital and they have agreed to add 238 ICU beds in the next two days." "In all, 663 ICU beds shall be added in various Delhi hospitals in the next few days," he said.

Also, the Union Home Ministry on Tuesday said that 45 doctors and 160 paramedics of the paramilitary forces have arrived in Delhi while the Railways is making available coaches with 800 beds at a station here to be used as health and isolation centres. The Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) is going to add 250 ICU beds to the existing 250 in addition to creating 35 BIPAP beds in the next 3-4 days at its COVID-19 hospital near the Delhi airport, a home ministry spokesperson said.

These developments come in the wake of 12 decisions taken at a high-level meeting chaired by Union Home Minister Amit Shah on Sunday following concern over the spurt in COVID-19 cases. Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia, however, said that the Delhi government has no plan to impose a lockdown.

It may press for certain restrictions in market areas for some days to prevent the spread of COVID-19, if such a need arises, he said. Lockdown was not a solution to the pandemic. It could be tackled through proper medical arrangements which the government was doing effectively, he said while interacting with reporters at the Delhi Secretariat.

While capping the number of 50 guests at wedding functions, Chief Secretary Vijay Dev, in an order, said that the decision was taken in view of the sudden surge in the number of COVID-19 cases in the city, which has further been aggravated due to rising pollution levels owing to various factors. "In closed spaces, a maximum of 50 percent of the hall capacity will be allowed, with a ceiling of 50 persons. Wearing of face masks, maintaining social distancing, provision for thermal scanning and use of hand wash or sanitizer will continue to be mandatory," Dev said.

He also said, "In open spaces, keeping the size of the ground/space in view, subject to a ceiling of 50 persons and with strict observance of social distancing, mandatory wearing of face masks…." On Tuesday, Delhi recorded 6,396 fresh COVID-19 cases, taking the infection tally to over 4.95 lakh, while 99 more fatalities pushed the death toll to 7,812.

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