"Hastened Third Wave" Alarm, Give Unlocking Report: Delhi High Court

Large crowds were seen at Delhi's popular shopping markets, breaking Covid protocols such as social distancing and wearing of masks.

As the restrictions eased, large crowds were seen at popular shopping markets.

New Delhi:

Breach of Covid protocol will only hasten the third wave, the Delhi High Court warned today, taking note of the violations in markets in the national capital following the massive easing of restrictions this week.

The high court issued notices to the Centre and the Delhi government, seeking a status report on the unlocking. It also asked authorities to make strict measures against violators and sensitise shopkeepers.

The court said if this behaviour of flouting COVID-19 norms continues, "we will be in a great trouble". "God help us if all that happens," the court said.

A little over a month after Delhi's darkest public health crisis during the second wave of the pandemic, large crowds were seen at popular shopping markets in the city, breaking Covid protocols such as social distancing and wearing of masks. Thousands crowded into metro stations and shopping, prompting some doctors to warn it could lead to a resurgence in COVID-19 infections.

"We have paid a huge price in the second wave. We don''t know if there is any household which has not suffered in the second wave, closely or remotely," the bench observed, adding that "we as a citizen of this city are worried when we see these images".

It further said the memory of the second wave of COVID-19 is still fresh with so many people having suffered personal loss.

"Such breach will only hasten the third wave, which is likely to come and this cannot be permitted," it added. The court will take up the matter again on July 9.

Additional Solicitor General Chetan Sharma said the concerns raised by the court will be conveyed to the authorities as "we cannot afford a third wave, just cannot have a third wave".

Shops, malls and restaurants in Delhi reopened on Monday as COVID-19 numbers in the city saw a steady drop in the past few weeks. Weekly markets too reopened but are allowed only 50 per cent vendors and only one market per day will function in each municipal zone.

Delhi was under a lockdown since April 19.

However, doctors and disease experts are worried about Delhi's near-complete re-opening, and have cautioned that a race towards resuming business as usual would compromise vaccination efforts.

Earlier this month, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal had said a task force is being set up to track a possible third wave of Covid. ICU beds and medicine supplies are also being ramped up. "We are preparing for third wave of COVID-19 keeping in mind that 37,000 cases may be reported at its peak," Mr Kejriwal had said June 5.

The capital on Thursday reported 158 new Covid cases and 10 deaths. The positivity rate dropped to 0.20 per cent.

(With inputs from PTI)