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Weekend curfew in Delhi; Metro will run to full capacity

Sparing Delhi of a total lockdown in the face of a steep rise in covid cases, the DDMA on Tuesday slapped on the Capital a weekend curfew and a Work From Home on Government staff although a 'Red Alert' would have come into play with the TPR crossing the 5% threshold for two consecutive days as per the GRAP. This is because hospitalisation of severe cases is few and far between. A Yellow Alert is already in force, closing schools, colleges and cinemas.

In another decision, Delhi Metro trains and public transport buses will be allowed to run with full capacity. They were operating with 50% capacity since last Wednesday when the Yellow Alert came into force. In a major 'discovery', the bus stops and metro stations have at last been found to be superspreaders with overcrowding (gatherings) as the running capacity of the trains and buses was reduced.

It suddenly dawned upon the authorities that the chances of covid infection are far less when there is linear movement - either people are moving or there is air flow (trains and buses), unlike of a gathering where the air flow is circular, carrying the virus to one and all!

NEW DELHI, Jan 4: With covid cases surging in Delhi at a blistering speed, the Delhi Disaster Management Authority (DDMA) meeting under the chairmanship of Lt Governor Anil Baijal on Tuesday decided to clamp more restrictions in the Capital.

As per the decisions, a weekend curfew will be imposed, private offices will be allowed to function at 50% capacity only and the Delhi State Government employees barring those engaged in essential services will work from home (WFH). However, the Metro and buses will run to full capacity, unlike the present 50% capacity under the Yellow Alert in force since last Wednesday. With overcrowding because of the reduction in running capacity, Metro stations and bus stops had become superspreaders.

There will be weekend curfew on Saturdays and Sundays, which will be in force from 10 pm on Friday till 5 am on Monday as under the Yellow Alert already in force there is night curfew from 10 pm till 5 am on all days.

This would mean the colour-coded Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP) will not be followed in letter and spirit as the infections are mild and hospitalisations are low. Else, a full 'Red Alert' should have come into play with the TPR crossing the 5% threshold for two consecutive days as per the GRAP. (The TPR is currently above 5 per cent for the last two straight days). A 'Red Alert' entails imposition of complete lockdown as was done in early 2020 and during the devastating second wave last year.

Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia said in a digital press briefing after the DDMA meeting that out of the around 11,000 active covid cases in Delhi at present, only 350 cases are admitted in hospitals, out of which 124 patients are on oxygen support and 7 on ventilators. (SEE: What is shut and what is open: Level I to Level IV)

A virtual meeting of the DDMA was held last Wednesday too but it was decided then also to 'wait and see' for some more time before clamping harsh restrictions on business activities in the Capital. Although the TPR had breached the GRAP's Level II, there were no alarming situation of a surge in serious cases of hospitalisations due to covid or Omicron in Delhi, the meeting had concluded. On Wednesday there were 923 cases which is an 86% jump from Tuesday's and the highest since May 30. But the TPR had climbed to 1.29 %, crossing the 0.5% threshold and then the Yellow Alert came into effect.

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