Health

Delhi imposes weekend COVID curfew but election rallies continue

Chief
Minister Arvind Kejriwal, the most senior elected official in the capital’s
administration, was one of the 37,379 new COVID-19 cases reported in India in
the space of 24 hours.

Kejriwal,
who announced his infection the day after addressing an election rally without
a mask, is among scores of political leaders – including Prime Minister
Narendra Modi – holding events across India in front of large crowds.

In the
northeasterly Manipur state, Modi addressed several hundred people at an
election rally, many sitting in close proximity with their masks pulled down.

In Uttar
Pradesh, the ruling party and opposition groups also held big gatherings where
many went without masks.

Mega-rallies
last year helped the Delta variant to wreak havoc in India, and with several
state elections due in coming months, health experts and the public are growing
worried.

India’s
daily case load was the highest since September and experts suspect the highly
transmissible omicron variant has begun to overtake delta, although hospital
admissions have not jumped yet.

Delhi is
reporting more than 4,000 cases a day, and Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia
said that, although most patients were showing mild or no symptoms and
recovering fast, people would be required to stay indoors on Saturdays and
Sundays.

On weekdays,
most offices will have to ensure that half their employees work from home, he
told a media briefing.

Delhi,
India’s financial capital Mumbai and the technology hub Bengaluru have already
imposed curbs on movement during the night, and some cities have also closed
schools and colleges.

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Kejriwal,
who addressed a rally in the state of Uttarakhand, said on Twitter he had
isolated at home with mild symptoms and urged anyone he had recently been in
contact with to do likewise and take a test for COVID-19.

The federal
government has encouraged local authorities to impose movement curbs if more
than 5 percent of COVID-19 tests are positive. Delhi registered a 6 percent
infection rate on Monday.

India has so
far recorded 482,017 official deaths from COVID-19.

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