"Why Wait 18 Days?" High Court Blasts Delhi Government Amid Covid Surge

Delhi COVID-19: "Why wait till now to reduce number of attendees at weddings?" the Delhi High Court has asked.

Delhi COVID-19: Delhi on Wednesday recorded 7,486 new COVID-19 cases. (Representational)

New Delhi:

The Delhi High Court today severely criticised the Delhi government for its flip-flop on the cap on number of wedding attendees allowed in the wake of a fresh wave of the COVID-19 pandemic sweeping the city.

"You (Delhi government) saw from November 1 which way the wind was blowing. But you turn turtle now because we asked you some questions. The bell should have rung loud and clear when the numbers were spiralling. Why did you not wake up when you saw the situation was deteriorating?" the court asked, according to a PTI report.

"Why did we have to shake you out of your slumber on November 11? What did you do from November 1 till November 11? Why did you wait 18 days (till November 18) to take a decision? Do you know how many lives were lost during this period? Can you explain it to those who lost their near and dear ones," the bench asked.

The Delhi government had on Tuesday scaled down the number of people allowed at weddings from 200 to 50 amid a surge in coronavirus cases. This decision overturned an earlier one, applicable since November 1, to ease the 50-persons-only cap on wedding functions that was declared a few months ago.

Delhi on Wednesday recorded 7,486 new COVID-19 cases, with 131 deaths - the highest fatalities for a 24-hour duration till now in the city. The High Court today referred to this as "disheartening".

The total number of cases in Delhi now stands at 5,03,084, with 42,458 active ones. Up to 7,943 people have died of the disease till now, putting the death rate at 1.58%, while the recovery rate is at 89.9%. The national capital has witnessed a spurt in case since the end of last month when, October 28, the daily number of fresh cases crossed 5,000 for the first time.

By earlier this month, the state government had declared that a third wave of COVID-19 was sweeping through the city. On November 11, the daily number crossed 8,000.  

Taking cognisance of the situation, the High Court today noted that the quantum of fine for not wearing masks and not maintaining social distancing - Rs 500 for first violation and Rs 1,000 for every subsequent violation - did not appear to be working as a deterrent, according to PTI.

The Delhi government, meanwhile, today asked all district magistrates and medical officers to double the number of testing centres in each district by November 21. If necessary, they have been asked to recruit staff from the open market for the new testing centres.