- Manish Sisodia said no parent would risk their children's health now
- Delhi has added over one lakh cases since November 1
- Arvind Kejriwal has flagged the farm fires as a key reason for the spike
There is no chance of Delhi schools - shut since March due to the Covid pandemic - re-opening any time soon, Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia told NDTV Tuesday evening, as the national capital battles a third - and most severe, so far - wave of infections.
"No chances of schools opening soon. No parent would want to send their children until they are assured that they will be safe," Mr Sisodia, who also holds the education portfolio, said. He also pointed out that no parent would risk their children's health at this time.
Late last month the Delhi government said all city schools would remain closed till further notice. At the time Mr Sisodia said the decision was based on feedback from parents. "We keep getting feedback from parents... they are concerned about whether it is safe... it is not," he had said then.
As part of the latest "unlock" guidelines, the centre has allowed schools (outside containment zones) to re-open for Class 9 to 12. A number of provisions were suggested to minimise the spread of the virus, including staggered timings, but the final decision was left to state governments.
Mr Sisodia also called on Union Health Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan to "not give political statements (but) take action" over ICU hospital beds to be supplied by the central government.
"I request Dr Harsh Vardhan not to give political statements (but) take action as health minister. It has been 10 days since you (the centre) promised ICU beds and we have got only 200. He should fulfill the commitment," he added.
Delhi has been battered by a relentless surge in fresh cases over the past few weeks. The city has added over one lakh since November 1 and an average of over 6,000 per day in the past week.
This comes after experts said winter, festive seasons and worsening air quality (because of the burning of farm wastes) would lead to a jump in infections. Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal flagged the issue today during a virtual meet with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and other state leaders.
"Stubble burning and Covid is a deadly combination... we have to understand the root case. (We are) not saying it (the rise in cases) is just because of stubble burning, but north Indian states are seeing a sudden increase now," Manish Sisodia told NDTV today after that meeting.
The spike has stressed already overworked hospitals, leading to a shortage of beds. The state has ordered 80 per cent of ICU beds in 33 private hospitals to be reserved for Covid patients.
Earlier this month Union Home Minister Amit Shah met Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal to discuss the situation. Mr Kejriwal later said the centre had "assured that 750 ICU beds will be made available". The Delhi government, which promised 1,400 beds, said that by Saturday it had added over 400.
A further 1,000 beds are needed from the centre, Mr Sisodia said today.
Delhi has recorded over 5.34 lakh Covid cases since the pandemic began in December last year. Of these, more than 8,500 are deaths linked to the virus. The active caseload is currently over 37,000.