COVID-19 causing financial stress to poor, ration per person increased: Kejriwal

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‘No lockdown for now, but will have to do it if needed’

NEW DELHI, March 21 (AGENCIES): The Delhi government on Saturday said the novel coronavirus was causing terrible financial stress to the poor and announced that those receiving ration from fair-price shops would get 50 per cent extra for next month.

During his first-ever digital-only press conference, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal doubled the pension for widows, differently-abled and elderly for this month.Urging people to stay indoors, Kejriwal said the government had not imposed a lockdown in Delhi for now, but would have to do it if the need arises in the wake of coronavirus pandemic.

“We are extremely concerned about daily wagers, labourers who have been hit hard over the coronavirus crisis; don’t want anyone to go hungry,” he said, adding that lunch and dinner would be provided for homeless in night shelters. The chief minister said restrictions due to COVID-19 were causing terrible financial stress to the poor.

“Seventy-two lakh people in Delhi get ration from fair price shops. Ration per person is being increased by 50 per cent. It will be provided free,” Kejriwal said. The government has doubled the pension for widows, differently-abled and the elderly for this month, he said, adding that would benefit 8.5-lakh beneficiaries.

“The government has also reduced the size of social, religious and political gatherings to not more than five people,” Kejriwal said. “It has not imposed a lockdown in Delhi for now, but will have to do it if the need arises.”

Considering some people may have to travel due to an emergency, 50 per cent of the buses will ply on roads in Delhi during the ‘Janata curfew’ on Sunday, he said. The chief minister urged the elderly to stay indoors, and skip morning and evening walks for time being as “they are most vulnerable group and need special care”.

He announced that the goods and services tax would be waived to make it more affordable for those who needed to be quarantined and were opting for the paid hotel facility. The number of coronavirus cases in India rose to 283 on Saturday, according to the Union Health Ministry. The deadly COVID-19, which has plunged many states into near-total lockdown, has claimed a life and infected over 20 in Delhi.

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