New Delhi: The Delhi government on Monday (August 3) banned the use of hookahs, with or without tobacco, in all public places, including hotels, restaurants and bars, with immediate effect to control the spread of COVID-19.

Smokers are likely to be more vulnerable to COVID-19 as smoking means the fingers are in contact with the lips which increases the possibility of transmission of the virus, the health department said in an order.

"Smokers may also already have lung diseases or reduced lung capacity which would greatly increase the risk of serious illness," it said.

Smoking products such as water pipes often involve the sharing of mouthpieces and hoses, which could facilitate the transmission of COVID-19 in communal and social settings, the health department said.

Therefore, the use and sharing of hookah, with or without tobacco (herbal hookah), "which might further increase the spread of SARS-CoV2, is strictly prohibited in all public places, including hotels, restaurants, bars, pubs, eateries, discotheques, etc. in Delhi with immediate effect to prevent and control the outbreak of COVID-19", it said.

Delhi has so far recorded 1,38,482 COVID-19 cases and 4,021 people have died due to the disease.