In the corridors of the Delhi metro, travelers seem hesitant, as if numbed by seven weeks of confinement. Masked, they comply without flinching to health protocols and carefully taste their new-found freedom. On Monday June 7, the megalopolis of 21 million people lifted many restrictions put in place to stem the recent wave of Covid-19. And the metro, shut down since May 10, has resumed service at 50% of its capacity.
Even large air-conditioned shopping malls have been allowed to reopen. At the Select Citywalk, in the south of the city, only a few daredevils venture down the marble walkways. “I’m looking for the good old days”, launches Munni Sen, a 35-year-old young woman, looking for a cafe where she could sit down. But restaurants and bars remain closed for the moment, as do sports halls and cinemas.
Epicenter of the second wave of Covid-19, Delhi is now experiencing a sharp decline in contamination. On Tuesday, the Indian capital reported 316 new cases of Covid and 41 deaths. At the peak of the pandemic at the end of April, the number of daily cases had exceeded 28,000 and, by the beginning of May, the number of deaths had climbed to more than 400 in twenty-four hours over several days. The positivity rate of PCR tests then exceeded 36%, it is now 0.4%. “This clearly shows the effectiveness of containment measures and barrier gestures to break the chain of transmission”, emphasizes epidemiologist Chandrakant Lahariya.
Hospitals, saturated for weeks, are also declining. More than 20,000 beds are currently available in the capital according to official data. “Last month, I was still sorting out patients lying outside the hospital to see who might or might not be admitted, remembers Amandeep Singh, doctor at AIIMS, one of the most famous public institutions in the country. But the coronavirus has not disappeared. “
In Delhi, horns may have replaced the incessant sirens of ambulances, but no one has forgotten. It was just a few weeks ago. Convoys of oxygen cylinders raced through the deserted city to supply hospitals at the end of their rope. Death floated in the air and the ashes from the funeral pyres were deposited on the balconies. The sick collapsed on the threshold of hospitals for lack of care. “This second wave was devastating, traumatic for New Delhians, says Rommel Tickoo, director of internal medicine at Max Hospital. Many have lost a family member and I think today the coronavirus is taken very seriously. “
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