Covid-19: Delhi has a point on allowing hotels and weekly markets to reopen

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August 8, 2020 6:00 AM

Delhi govt has a point on allowing hotels and weekly markets to reopen, but its record on checking spread isn’t encouraging

While the Delhi government’s point seems fair, the fact is that its handling of the Covid-19 outbreak so far hasn’t been encouraging.While the Delhi government’s point seems fair, the fact is that its handling of the Covid-19 outbreak so far hasn’t been encouraging. (File image)

After lieutenant-governor (L-G) Anil Baijal last week scotched the Delhi government’s proposal to reopen hotels, gyms and weekly markets, the latter has sent the file back to the L-G, citing the case of certain states that had a higher number of active cases and deaths from Covid-19 than Delhi, but have kept hotels and weekly markets functioning. Delhi revenue minister Kailash Gahlot cited the examples of Uttar Pradesh and Karnataka that have functioning markets and hotels despite a sudden surge in Covid-19 spread, and talked of how, after the Centre allowed the reopening of weekly markets and hotels, the Centre is thwarting Delhi on this (via the L-G’s office). While the Delhi government’s point seems fair, the fact is that its handling of the Covid-19 outbreak so far hasn’t been encouraging.

Even though the rapid antigen test’s (RAT’s) poor sensitivity has been widely discussed, the national capital has seen largely RAT-led testing over the past one month, and with ICMR guidelines limiting confirmatory RT-PCR testing to just symptomatic RAT negatives, there is no guarantee that asymptomatic/pre-symptomatic cases are not getting missed. Against such a backdrop, allowing weekly markets when there is every likelihood that distancing can’t be enforced at all is a recipe for disaster. Also, the Delhi government has taken controversial decisions in the past, like the one on testing of the dead. Hotels and markets staying shut, without doubt, is a revenue concern for Delhi, and hits at livelihoods. But, the Delhi government will have a stronger case if it can put forward a plan on how it will enforce preventive measures.

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