Delhi faces 'grim' virus battle as cases jump again: minister

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A weekend lockdown emptied Delhi's streets on Saturday

New Delhi has registered at least 24,000 fresh coronavirus cases in 24 hours and faces a "grim" battle against a new pandemic wave with shortages of oxygen and drugs, the Indian capital's Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said Saturday.

The city of more than 20 million is already under a strict weekend lockdown after becoming the worst-hit city in a country confronting a new surge.

India has become the world's new Covid-19 hotspot, with more than 230,000 cases reported Saturday.

The number of new cases in Delhi rose from about 19,500 on Friday to 24,000 and Kejriwal said the virus was "spreading really fast".

"The situation is grim and worrisome," he added, highlighting shortages of oxygen and Remdesivir, the anti-viral drug widely used to combat coronavirus.

Kejriwal appealed to the national government for help increasing supplies as well as the number of beds for Covid-19 patients.

"The rate at which it is going we don't know where this will peak," said the head of the regional government.

"If it worsens we will take whatever steps are needed in the next few days to save your lives," he added, hinting at the possibility of extending the lockdown, which emptied the streets on Saturday.

bb/tw/leg