Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal announced on Sunday that the existing lockdown of the city had been extended till May 3 in a bid to contain the COVID-19 pandemic as patients continued flocking to hospitals looking for beds and oxygen.
At least 45 persons have died due to oxygen supply-related issues at the Sir Ganga Ram Hospital and the Jaipur Golden Hospital in the past few days, and the Centre and the Delhi government have scrambled to ensure adequate supply of oxygen to the city’s hospitals.
“The lockdown was our last weapon against corona. We have spoken to several sections and have decided to extend the lockdown by one more week. We hope that this will bring down the positivity rate,” Mr. Kejriwal said.
The Chief Minister, in a brief statement, conceded that despite the lockdown, cases continued to rise in the city and the virus’ spread had not stopped. However, he said that the positivity rate which rose to 36-37% at the start of the lockdown was showing signs of improvement over the past two days and, in the past 24 hours, had fallen below 30%.
“This is not to say that the disease is ebbing, though that is the hope. It may increase or decrease in the coming days, but our efforts will always be directed towards controlling the spread of the virus, and we are monitoring the situation closely,” Mr. Kejriwal added.
As desperate pleas from several hospitals that their oxygen stock was running out continued on Sunday, the Chief Minister said the government had been working all night to ensure oxygen reached hospitals on time and patients did not suffer.
“We have failed at times and have been successful at times. We need to manage our oxygen resources properly and have started a portal, which will update availability of oxygen every two hours. This is to get information from the stock available with manufacturers, suppliers, and the usage by hospitals, so that we do not face an emergency,” the Chief Minister said.
He added that Delhi was receiving support from the Central government, and he had appealed to all States that had oxygen to share, and other countries as well, to send oxygen to Delhi. “It is a tough situation for all of us and a big emergency. In my opinion, the coming days should see less confusion and chaos on this matter. We are constantly working to try new avenues of sourcing oxygen over and above what the Central government is supplying,” Mr. Kejriwal said.
He added that Delhi needed 700 tonnes of oxygen and the Centre had allotted 490 tonnes, but this allotment was still not reaching the city. “Only 335 tonnes reached the capital against our requirement of 700 tonnes. This is the reason for oxygen shortage and is proving to be a huge impediment in the recovery of COVID positive patients,” the CM said.