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    From seeking divine intervention in the form of a live-streamed Lakshmi Puja by him and his cabinet colleagues, to banning crackers ahead of Diwali in view of the rise in COVID-19 cases in the capital and the situation threatening to worsen due to festival rush and the onset of winter chill, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal made some major announcements with regard to controlling the spread of the pandemic.

    While there was already a Supreme Court-mandated restriction in place with regard to crackers in Delhi, with only ‘green crackers’ allowed, Kejriwal today announced that there will be a ban on all crackers in the capital.

    The decision to ban crackers was taken at a meeting chaired by the chief minister to review the COVID-19 situation in the capital. Also among the decisions taken at the meeting attended by the chief secretary, health officials and all district magistrates, is ramping up the medical infrastructure, increasing the number of oxygen-equipped and ICU beds in Delhi government hospitals.

    In view of the rising cases, with a daily figure of close to 7,000 cases reported over the last two days, and increasing demand for ICU beds, the Delhi government has approached the Supreme Court over the Delhi High Court’s stay on the government’s order to increase ICU beds in private hospitals.

    Steps will also be taken to carry out targeted testing and all measures will be taken to ensure that the fatality rate does not increase, Kejriwal tweeted after the meeting.

    Earlier, addressing a press conference, Kejriwal said his government will organise and livestream Lakshmi Puja on Diwali and appealed to the two crore people of Delhi to join in by performing the same rituals at their homes.

    Kejriwal also appealed to neighbouring states to adopt the ecofriendly alternative to stubble burning developed by PUSA Institute to minimise air pollution caused by the practice. “The farmers do not need to burn stubble. They can use a chemical developed by the PUSA Institute on the fields, and the stubble turns into manure in just 20 days,” he said.

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