No public gatherings will be allowed in Delhi tonight and tomorrow between 11 PM and 6 AM as the state government has announced a night curfew to restrict the New Year celebrations. The centre had asked the states to consider a series of restrictions and tone down the New Year celebrations after 20 cases of new mutant coronavirus strain - believed to be significantly more infectious - were reported across the country.
No New Year "celebratory events, congregations and gatherings at public places shall be permitted from 11 pm of December 31 to 6 am of January 1 and 11 pm of January 1 and 6 am of January 2," the Delhi Disaster Management Authority said in a statement. Traffic movement, however, will not be restricted.
The Home Ministry, in a letter on Monday, had urged the states to ensure strict vigil to check the spread of coronavirus. "The number of Covid 19 active cases is declining steadily in the country for the last three-and-half months. Keeping in view the fresh surge of Covid-19 cases in Europe and Americas, there is still a need for maintaining comprehensive precaution and strict surveillance within our country," a top official has written to the states.
New Year celebrations "pose a considerable threat of the spread of the virus and may cause a setback to the appreciable gains made in the suppression of chain of transmission of COVID-19 cases in Delhi," the DDMA said in its statement, adding that a "detailed assessment of the situation" in the city has been made in view of the the threat posed by the mutant UK strain of COVID-19 virus.
The United Kingdom, where the new mutant strain was first detected in September, has seen a massive surge in coronavirus infections in the last few weeks. Earlier this month, Britain had said the virus is "out of control", which led to a new wave of worldwide restrictions amid pandemic.
Experts, however, have asserted there's no reason to believe the new version is more deadly or vaccines won't be able to fight it.
On Tuesday, Delhi Chief Minster Arvind Kejriwal had said the city is prepared to deal with the new mutant strain of coronavirus. "At one point, 8,500 corona cases were coming to Delhi every day, which was the highest in the world. But the Delhi people controlled the corona," the Chief Minister said.
Eight of total 20 mutant virus strain cases have been recorded at a Delhi lab. The national capital has so far logged over 6.24 lakh infections. Across India, the tally has surged to 1.02 crore infections. But there has been a significant drop in the number of infections recorded daily in the last two-three months.