What is adding to the worry is the increase in the number of cases of the Omicron variant of the virus, which spreads faster, to 57. DDMA issued stern directions to the district magistrates on Wednesday to curb the spread of Covid.
Chief minister Arvind Kejriwal will chair a review meeting on the city’s preparedness and management of the new variant on Thursday morning. Sources said the preparedness for a likely third wave of Covid-19, besides the arrangements for hospital beds, oxygen and medicine, will be reviewed. The CM will also review preparations for augmenting the infrastructure for home isolation management.
The order says that there has been a persistent rise in Covid-19 cases in Delhi in the past few days and the presence of the Omicron variant has become quite significant. District magistrates have been asked to conduct an intensive survey of the entire area in their jurisdiction and identify pockets, colonies, markets, slum areas, crowded places etc., which have the potential of becoming a Covid super-spreader or hotspot.
The district authorities have been directed to follow the prescribed protocol of test, track and treat in such areas, besides taking effective containment measures and enforcing Covida-appropriate behaviour.
DDMA has pointed out that its order of December 15 prohibits all social, political, sports, entertainment, cultural, religious and festival-related gatherings and congregations besides capping the capacity of restaurants, auditoriums and marriage-related gatherings. “However, it is observed that prohibitions/restrictions imposed by DDMA are not being strictly complied with,” says the order.
The Authority has observed that Covid-appropriate behaviour — wearing of masks, social distancing etc — is being followed at public places. “There may be some laxity and leniency in general on the part of field functionaries/enforcement machinery at the ground level in the enforcement of Covid-appropriate behaviour,” the order states.
While July this year saw 2.1 lakh challans being issued by the district authorities for violating Covid safety norms, the figure dipped to 1.8 lakh in August, 1.7 lakh in September, 1.2 lakh in October and 1.1 lakh in November. This month, a total of 66,850 challans have been issued till December 18.
All district deputy commissioners of police have also been asked to tighten their enforcement machinery and deploy sufficient numbers of enforcement teams at public places.
The DDMA has said that since “wearing of masks is the most important weapon in the fight against Covid-19,” resident welfare associations and market associations should be advised not to allow residents, shopkeepers and customers without masks in their areas and public places. District authorities have been asked to convene meetings with these associations to inform them about the sharp increase in Covid-19 cases, particularly that of the Omicron variant, so that they can further sensitize other residents, members and shopkeepers.
DDMA has directed that market and trader associations should implement “no mask, no entry” at shops and workplaces and they should be made aware that district authorities would be compelled to take stringent action, including closure of the premises, if they fail to comply with Covid-appropriate behaviour.