Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Saturday accepted that there had been a surge in the number of coronavirus cases but said that the national Capital cannot be under permanent lockdown.

Delhi has the third highest number of Covid-19 cases in India, after Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu. Till Saturday morning, the Capital had recorded a total of 17,386 cases and 398 deaths. Maharashtra, the worst-hit state in the country has 62,228 cases and 2,098 deaths. This is followed by Tamil Nadu, which has recorded 20,246 cases and 154 deaths.

“A permanent lockdown is no solution,” Kejriwal said. “We have to move on, but with precautions.” He added that the national Capital was “four steps ahead of coronavirus” in its preparations to combat the virus. “We are making several arrangements, more than what is needed,” Kejriwal added.

The nationwide lockdown to combat the coronavirus was first imposed on March 25. It has since been extended three times and the fourth phase is scheduled to end on May 31. It is not clear if it will be extended again. In the fourth phase, Delhi had announced a host of relaxations. Taxis and cabs were allowed to operate with two passengers, and buses with 20. Autorickshaws, e-rickshaws and cycle rickshaws were permitted with only one passenger. Markets were allowed to open on odd-even basis, and restaurants for home delivery. Hotels, cinemas, malls, religious places schools and colleges continued to remain shut.

The AAP leader said that people should not panic because of the huge spike in cases. Delhi’s tally doubled in two weeks – from 8,500 cases on May 14 to 17,386 cases on Saturday. “The situation in Delhi would be worrying for me in two scenarios – if the number of Covid-19 deaths increase and if there’s a shortage of hospital beds,” Kejriwal said.

He added that of the total cases recorded so far, only 2,100 patients are in hospitals, while the others have either mild or no symptoms, and are recovering at home.

The chief minister said that they have arranged 2,100 additional beds in a week for coronavirus patients. “We had 4,500 beds last week. Today, the city has 6,600 beds for the patients,” he said, adding that by June 5, the total number of beds will increase to 9,500.

Last week, Kejriwal had ordered 117 private hospitals across the Capital to keep 20% of their beds reserved for coronavirus patients. He also said that the government was launching a mobile application that will help citizens track the number of beds in the city.

Referring to a fake video doing the rounds on social media, he appealed to those targeting the AAP government to not play politics during a pandemic. Kejriwal clarified that the video, which claimed that a large number of bodies were piling up at a government hospital, was not from Delhi. He said, “This is not the time for dirty politics. All of us have to work together for the nation.”

Meanwhile, India recorded 7,964 new coronavirus infections in 24 hours on Saturday morning. This is the highest daily rise in infections so far, and the country’s tally crossed 1.73 lakh. Covid-19 has killed 4,971 people in the country.

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