Wearing masks has been made mandatory in public places in Delhi, Lieutenant Governor Anil Baijal announced on Wednesday.

The decision was taken at a Delhi Disaster Management Authority meeting to review the coronavirus situation in the city.

Coronavirus cases have surged in the national Capital in the past two weeks. On Tuesday, Delhi recorded 632 new Covid-19 cases, up from 137 infections registered on April 11. The test positivity rate stood at 4.42% on Tuesday.

The Delhi Disaster Management Authority officials told NDTV that a fine of Rs 500 may be imposed on people not wearing masks.

It was decided in the meeting that a standard operating procedure for preventing the spread of the coronavirus disease in schools should be laid down, Baijal said. He added that the schools should ensure strict enforcement of the Covid-19 guidelines.

Officials told NDTV that the guidelines will be issued after holding discussions with experts. Baijal said that penalty would be imposed on school authorities for violating the guidelines.

The lieutenant governor also said that it was decided to enhance testing, focus on vaccinating targeted population and ensure strict enforcement of Covid-19 appropriate behaviour.

The meeting was attended by Baijal, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, Health Minister Satyendra Jain, All India Institute of Medical Sciences director Dr Randeep Guleria, among other ministers and government officials.

On Tuesday, the Union government had advised Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Maharashtra and Mizoram to take preventive action to control the spread of the coronavirus infection. The government had asked residents of these states to follow Covid-appropriate behaviour and wear masks in crowded areas.

Amid the rise in Covid-19 cases, Uttar Pradesh had on Monday made wearing masks compulsory in Lucknow and six of its districts that are part of the National Capital Region. Haryana too made masks mandatory in Gurugram, Faridabad, Sonipat, and Jhajjar districts, all of which border Delhi.

The Chandigarh administration advised citizens to wear masks in crowded places and public transports.

Last month, several states had announced that wearing masks was no longer necessary after the Union home ministry decided to end all Covid-19 containment measures from March 31.

Spread of Omicron variant in Delhi

Meanwhile, government data showed that 97% of the samples taken from people in Delhi who died of Covid-19 between January and March were infected with the Omicron variant, reported PTI.

Genome sequencing showed that the Omicron variant was found in 560 of the 578 samples collected. It showed that the remaining 18 patients were infected with other variants, including Delta and its sub-lineages.

Delhi has also started genome sequencing samples of all Covid-19 patients in the national Capital to ascertain if any new variant, such as XE, has spread in the city.