After a brief respite from Covid-19 restrictions following the second wave, residents in Delhi are in for some more social distancing as the end of another year in pandemic sees cases of coronavirus spike in the capital.
Ahead of the festive season, the capital logged 125 fresh cases on Wednesday. Coupled with the growing cases of Omicron, concerns about a potential third wave seem to have also put a dampener on festive spirits with authorities in Delhi prohibiting any Christmas and New Year gatherings in Delhi this year.
Not just celebrations, on Wednesday, the Delhi Disaster Management Authority (DDMA) issued a host of new rules and Covid-19 protocols for Delhiites.
Here are the top rules and developments in Delhi:
1. No Christmas or New Year events: In its order, the DCMA banned all "social/political/cultural/religious/festival related gatherings". This includes all Christmas and New Year gatherings, events or parties.
2. Slashed seating: Plans to dine out? Book ahead in advance as according to new SOPs issued by DDMA, bars and restaurants will be allowed to open at only half the capacity. Assembly and banquet halls can only function for certain permissible events such as weddings or meetings while complying with Covid-19 protocols.
3. Weddings and funerals allowed: According to the new orders, weddings and funerals can take place but with a 200-person cap on the guest list.
4. DMS alerted: District Magistrates have also been directed to identify potential Covid-19 superspreader areas in the capital. They have also been asked to ensure compliance of new Covid-19 SOPs during the festive days by conducting surprise raids.
5. RWAs alerted: In Delhi, where local societies see inter-community gatherings and social events, Resident Welfare Associations have been alerted about the rising threat from Omicron.
6. Schools open or shut? According to the DDMA statement, schools can open as long as they comply with strict Covid-19 SOPs.
7. Spike in Omicron cases: The new developments come even as Delhi continued to witness a rising number of Omicron cases. As of Wednesday, there were a total of 57 Omicron cases in the national capital, the highest in the country, followed by Maharashtra (54).
8. Genome sequencing: On Monday, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal announced that all samples that test positive for Covid-19 will now be sent for genome sequencing.
9. Call for boosters: Delhi CM Kejriwal has urged the Centre to allow the administration of booster shots to the fully vaccinated city residents. The demand comes amid a growing chorus for booster shots across the country, especially for vulnerable sections of the population such as senior citizens of those with comorbidities.
10. Delhi prepared for potential 'third wave': Delhi health authorities seem to have already braced themselves for a potential outbreak As early as November 30, the Arvind Kejriwal government had started reviewing its preparedness in the face of a potential 'third wave' of Covid-19 and Omicron outbreak. The number of containment zones in the city has been increased from 173 to 184 on Tuesday. 23,000 Covid-19 beds are prepped and ready in Delhi. Additionally, the government is planning to arrange 100 beds per ward on a two-week notice. If implemented, the total number of beds in Delhi will grow by 64,000.
In a statement, the government also announced that 6,800 ICU beds will also be ready very soon to tackle any severe outbreak of Covid-19 or its Omicron variant. Efforts are also being made to improve and develop home isolation arrangements and hospitals are getting booster stocks of medicines.
(With PTI inputs)