Amid a veritable festival surge in the number of COVID-19 infections in the city, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal today pointed at pollution as a reason for the spike and hoped to control its spread in the next 7-10 days.
"Even I am worried about the rise in the number of cases...We are taking all necessary measures...I hope in seven to 10 days, the number of cases should decline and the situation should come under control," Mr Kejriwal said in a public message.
The number of COVID-19 deaths in Delhi rose by a record high on Thursday to 104 as the city also reported the greatest number of infections (7,053) in India, according to a Reuters report. Amid the city's third wave of infections, many hospitals have reportedly run out of intensive care beds and even normal COVID-19 beds are getting occupied fast.
"The biggest reason for the spike in cases is pollution. Delhi had contained rising cases but after pollution increased, the number of cases also shot up," the Delhi Chief Minister said.
The central government, according to Reuters, has asked Delhi to prepare resources to handle cases of up to 15,000 a day during winter, when pollution peaks in the city and respiratory issues jump. Besides vehicular and industrial pollution, two key factors add to the city's troubles in this season every year: farm stubble burning in Punjab and Haryana and festival fireworks.
"For the past 10-12 years, due to stubble burning, pollution increases in entire north India...Media shows situation in Delhi but the biggest problem is faced by farmers," Mr Kejriwal said, referring to a potential solution to the problem invented by researchers.
Scientists at Delhi's PUSA Institute Technology, he said, have found a new chemical compound, which, when poured on stubble, helps it turn into manure within 3-4 weeks, nullifying the need to burn it.
"Now all that needs to be seen is if the government formally introduces this chemical, or will we see this pollution mess year after year…This year should be the last year of pollution due to stubble burning," Mr Kejriwal said.