New Delhi | Jagran News Desk: Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Friday said that the COVID-19 positivity rate in the national capital has dipped to 12 per cent as the city-state reported just 8,500 fresh cases in the last 24 hours that pushed its total caseload to 13.80 lakh.

Kejriwal, however, hinted that the lockdown imposed in the city-state last month will unlikely be lifted on May 17, stressing that there is "no room for leniency" as the battle against the COVID-19 pandemic has not ended yet.

"We have to take the number of cases to zero. We cannot be at ease... have to strictly follow the lockdown," Kejriwal was quoted as saying by news agency PTI.

Notably, the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) has also said that the restrictions should continue in all districts of Delhi, noting that opening up the national capital will be a "disaster".

"The high positivity districts should remain (shut). If they come to 5 per cent from 10 per cent (positivity rate) we can open them, but that has to happen. That won't happen in six to eight weeks, clearly," ICMR head Dr Balram Bhargava was quoted as saying by Reuters.

Delhi was witnessing a massive spike in cases since mid-March after which the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government imposed a complete lockdown in the city-state on April 19. The lockdown, however, was extended on multiple occasions -- April 25, May 1 and May 9 -- amid the continuous spike in cases.

However, the daily COVID-19 cases in Delhi have reduced over the past few days. On Thursday, it reported 10,489 fresh cases while 13,287 cases were recorded on Wednesday. On Tuesday, it reported 12,481 cases while it saw a spike of 12,651 and 13,336 on Monday and Sunday respectively.

Meanwhile, Kejriwal on Friday also said that the Delhi government will provide financial help to families which have lost their earning members to COVID-19. He also said that the AAP government will bear the cost of education and upbringing of children orphaned by the pandemic.

"I know many children who have lost both their parents. I want to tell them that I am still there. Do not consider yourself an orphan. The government will take care of their studies and upbringing," Kejriwal said.

"I know elderly citizens who have lost their children. They depended on their earnings. I want to tell them that their son (Kejriwal) is alive. The government will help all such families who have lost their earning members," Kejriwal added.

Posted By: Aalok Sensharma