The national Capital reported 17,828 fresh cases in a massive single-day surge in the last 24 hours, making Delhi the worst Covid-infested city, surpassing even Mumbai.
Earlier, Delhi had recorded the highest single day surge of 8593 last November.
The gravity of the crisis can be gauged from the fact that at Delhi's biggest crematorium, Nigambodh Ghat, the number of cremations has doubled from 15 per day to over 30.
Doctors say the death count is high because people are reporting at hospitals "at a very late stage." However, many queuing up at Delhi hospitals complained that hospital beds were in short supply.
The Delhi government had earlier this week attached banquet halls, schools and sports complexes to turn them into hospitals in a move to ramp up beds for treatment. Private hospitals have already been told to set aside beds for Covid patients and many large hospitals have been declared fully dedicated Covid facilities, with orders not to admit any other patients.
Finally yielding to the dire need, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Thursday announced a weekend curfew in the capital from Friday 10 PM to Monday 6 AM. Curfew passes will be, however, issued to those rendering essential services and those arriving by flights, trains and buses on show of tickets.
"Don't panic. All essential services will be available through the weekend,’’ Kejriwal said and stressed that there is no shortage of beds in Delhi hospitals.
Events like weddings, too, will be allowed with curfew passes, though most of the banquet halls have cancelled reservations for weddings since they have been taken over by the government and turned into the Covid-19 recovery centres.
The announcements made by Kejriwal include curbs even on weekdays as malls, auditoriums, gyms and spas will be shut down and cinema halls will be allowed to function at third of their capacity while eating out is banned and only home deliveries will be allowed. Weekly markets in different parts of the capital will be allowed, but with restrictions.