Delhi imposes weekend curfew as Covid cases rise

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New Delhi (AFP) – India’s capital New Delhi will close over the weekend as authorities grapple with a further rise in coronavirus cases, in part fueled by the rapidly spreading Omicron variant.

The country was hit by a devastating Covid epidemic last year that overwhelmed hospitals and crematoriums, but the number of daily cases had since remained reasonably low until last week.

Delhi’s new restrictions came on the same day the sprawling mega-city’s chief minister, Arvind Kejriwal, announced he had been infected and was suffering from “mild symptoms.”

Kejriwal said he was isolating himself at his home and urged those in contact with him in the past few days to get tested.

The capital closed gymnasiums and cinemas last week, and imposed a nighttime curfew in an attempt to stem the spread.

All residents, in addition to essential workers, will now be invited to stay at home from Friday evening to Monday morning.

“The government is fully prepared to tackle any situation related to Covid,” City Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia said on Tuesday.

More than 200,000 people died in India last spring after a wave of Delta-variant infections brought the healthcare system to its knees.

The 481,000 known deaths from Covid in India are the third global death toll, behind the United States and Brazil.

But the underreporting is widespread, and some studies have estimated that its actual toll could be up to 10 times higher.

India started vaccinating adolescents on Monday and will offer booster doses to people over 60 from next week.