NEW DELHI: The number of active coronavirus cases in the national capital has registered a fall of over 60 per cent in the last one week, even as DDMA authorities are slated to meet on Friday to discuss further relaxations in COVID-19 curbs in view of improving situation.
While daily cases count, positivity rate, and several other metrics have shown a downtrend in the past several days, the number of deaths reported here due to Covid, has not abated much in the last few weeks.
On January 26, the daily cases tally had stood at 7,498 with a positivity rate of 10.59 per cent, and 29 deaths were registered.
The active cases tally on that day was 38,315 while the cumulative death cases had stood at 25,710, as per official data.
On February 2, the daily cases tally came down to 3,028 while the positivity rate slipped to 4.73 per cent, and 27 deaths were registered.
The active cases tally on that day had fallen to 14,870 while the cumulative death cases had stood at 25,919.
So, 210 fatalities have been reported in the last one week, as per official figures, while the active cases count has reduced by a margin of about 61 per cent.
However, as the overall pandemic situation ok Delhi has shown an improvement, the Delhi Disaster Management Authority (DDMA) is scheduled to meet on Friday to discuss further relaxations in COVID-19 curbs, including reopening of schools, in view of the declining cases in the national capital.
Schools in the city were briefly reopened before being closed again on December 28 last year in view of the third wave of COVID-19 driven by the Omicron variant.
The number of daily cases in Delhi had reached a record high of 28,867 on January 13.
The city had recorded a positivity rate of 30.6 per cent on January 14, the highest during the ongoing wave of the pandemic.
But, the number of daily cases has been on the decline lately.
It had taken just 10 days for daily cases to drop below the 10,000-mark.
Delhi on January 23 had reported 9,197 Covid cases with a positivity rate of 13.32 per cent and 34 deaths.
The surge in Covid cases in Delhi during the third wave of the pandemic, are due to the Omicron variant of the virus which is highly transmissible.
Family after families in a large number of neighbourhoods had tested positive, but medical experts have said that since the infection had happened at the same time, the recovery too has been quicker for the community as a whole, and there has been less chance of more spread of infection as people have been largely home isolated with a very little number of patients needing hospitalisation this time.
There are 15,426 beds for Covid patients in Delhi hospitals and 1,400 (9.08 per cent) of them were occupied.
A total of 1,400 Covid patients were in hospitals, the Thursday health department bulletin stated.
The number of people under home isolation stood at 10,347 on Thursday while it was 12,312 a day before, and the number of containment zones in the city stood at 35,961, a fall from 37,116 on Wednesday, the bulletin said.
Meanwhile, the Delhi BJP on Wednesday demanded reopening of gyms and spas, alleging that the AAP government was discriminating against them as Covid restrictions like weekend curfew have been removed, and restaurants and bars have been allowed to operate at 50 percent capacity.
In a statement, leader of the Opposition in the Delhi Assembly Ramvir Singh Bidhuri urged Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal to immediately send a proposal in this regard to Lieutenant Governor Anil Baijal.
"Restrictions like weekend curfew and odd-even have been removed from the markets. Along with this, restaurants, bars, and cinemas have also been allowed with 50 percent capacity. Why is discrimination being done only with gyms and spas?" the BJP leader asked.
He highlighted that the livelihood of over one lakh people has been affected by the closure of gyms in the city.
"The fitness industry has been affected the most during Corona. They have been kept almost closed for the last two years. There are more than five thousand gyms in Delhi and more than one lakh people are associated with this industry. They are facing starvation-like situations," he claimed.
"Therefore, the Delhi government should take immediate steps and send a proposal to the Lieutenant Governor that now the time has come to open this industry following the rules of Corona," he demanded.
Though the Delhi Disaster Management Authority (DDMA) last week lifted the weekend curfew and also allowed restaurants, bars and cinema halls to operate with 50 per cent capacity, gyms and schools in the city are still shut.
On Saturday, hundreds of gym owners took out a protest march to Kejriwal's residence to oppose the DDMA's decision to keep fitness centres closed even as the number of Covid cases have come down in the city.
Restrictions had come into force under a yellow alert' issued by the authority in December last year when the Covid positivity rate had crossed 0.5 per cent in the national capital.
The number of daily cases in Delhi has been on the decline after touching a record high of 28,867 on January 13.
With a decline in Covid cases in Delhi, various market associations here have said that the government should now think about withdrawing the night curfew as it is adversely affecting their businesses.
In a meeting last week, the Delhi Disaster Management Authority (DDMA) decided to lift the weekend curfew along with the odd-even rule for shops here.
During the meeting, it was decided that the night curfew should be continued in the national capital.
Shops are currently allowed to open from 10 am to 8 pm.
Traders and shopkeepers of Delhi said that the closing time should be extended.
Ashok Randhawa, President of Sarojini Nagar Mini Market Association, said the 10 am - 8 pm timing has not really helped in increasing the sales already affected by the pandemic and restrictions.
"Our overall sales have only been 40 per cent even after the removal of the odd-even rule. Moreover, there's not enough footfall in the morning. It would have been better if shops were allowed to open from 11 am."
"Much of the winter stock is lying unsold with us. Hawkers selling goods on the pavements are the worst affected as 75 per cent of them have been removed by the police. We urge the government to let the shops remain open for a longer time like till 9 pm to 9.30 pm," he said.
Market associations said the shopkeepers start closing their shops before 8 pm since they are scared that they might have to face action if the shop remains open even for some time beyond the deadline.
"The closing time for the shops is actually 7.15 pm as shopkeepers rush towards downing the shutters keeping in view the 8 pm curfew. Customers, too, get into a hurry to leave the market well before the curfew starts."
"We are losing out on sales because of this. We demand restoration of normal operational hours -- 10 am - 9pm," said Ashwani Marwah, general secretary of Trader Association, Lajpat Nagar.
He said Covid cases are on a decline in Delhi and all the shopkeepers are fully vaccinated.
"We are following Covid protocols because we too are responsible citizens," he added.