Delhi lockdown extended till May 31, Kejriwal says will unlock gradually from next week if Covid cases keep plunging

Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal said his government is in talks with manufacturers to buy vaccines to get everyone inoculated at the earliest.

Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Sunday extended the ongoing lockdown in Delhi by another week till May 31, saying his government will start the unlocking process from next week if cases keep plunging.

“Every Sunday, we sit down and decide whether the lockdown should be extended. The April-May wave was very dangerous and Delhi was the first one to impose a lockdown… We have been asking people about this and most feel that the shutdown should be extended for another week so that we do not lose the gains,” Kejriwal said. He added, “Daily cases are still above 1,000. So, we are extending it till May 31, 5 am. If cases keep decreasing like they are right now, we will start the process of unlocking next week. We will not open everything all at once. Unlocking will be gradual.”

The lockdown in the national capital was first announced on April 19.

In the last 24 hours, Delhi witnessed around 1,600 cases with the positivity rate dipping to around 2.5%, Kejriwal said. On Saturday, 2,260 cases were reported and the positivity rate was 3.58%.

Delhi’s vaccination drive for those in the 18-44 age group has, however, come to a halt as the national capital has run out of jabs. Kejriwal said he was sure that the city would get help from the Centre to combat the shortage.

“Our top priority is to see how we can vaccinate people as quickly as possible. However, there is a shortage across the country. There is also an apprehension about a third wave. If we vaccinate everyone, we might be able to avoid it. I am personally speaking to vaccine manufacturers about availability. We are ready to buy vaccines from any authorised company, irrespective of the costs involved. We are even willing to spend an amount that is equivalent to Delhi’s budget to get everyone inoculated,” the chief minister said.

He added that health infrastructure, including beds, oxygen and ICUs, is being ramped up in preparation of a third wave of the novel coronavirus.

So far, 50 lakh people in Delhi have received at least one dose of the vaccine. While stock is available for those above 45 in the healthcare and frontline workers category, Delhi has run out of vaccines for those in the 18-44 age group.

Kejriwal also lauded healthcare workers, who have worked tirelessly during the pandemic.

“Doctors and nurses didn’t sleep for days. They have worked day in and day out to serve patients. Many have succumbed to Covid themselves. We are indebted to them and cannot repay what they have done. The Delhi government has decided to give Rs 1 crore to their families. I have been meeting the kin of the frontline workers who have succumbed to the virus,” he said.

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