The Opposition on Sunday attacked the Arvind Kejriwal government for reserving all government hospitals and some private ones in the city to treat only Delhi residents, and called it an insensitive move to divert attention from the “collapsing” health infrastructure and the “failure” of the Aam Aadmi Party to rein in the coronavirus pandemic.

Delhi Bharatiya Janata Party chief Adesh Gupta said any person, whether from Delhi or outside, should be treated in the hospitals of the city, according to PTI. “This decision of the Kejriwal government is insensitive,” he added. “They are trying to divert attention from the real issues which are failure of the Kejriwal government to tackle the corona pandemic and collapsing healthcare system in Delhi.”

Meanwhile, Delhi Congress President Anil Kumar alleged it was a diversionary tactic of the state government to shift focus from the shortage of beds for coronavirus patients. “There are not enough number of beds for coronavirus patients in Delhi,” he said. “Kejriwal should tell if his government will deny treatment to large number of people from other states, specially from Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, who live in Delhi but do not have any identity or address proof.”

Congress leader Ajay Maken claimed that 33 of the 38 government hospitals were not treating Covid-19 patients. He also said Delhi was not prepared for the opening of malls, restaurants and places of worship from Monday. “What kind of health infrastructure Delhi government has created for coronavirus in the last three months,” he asked. “Unless they are prepared to improve the infrastructure, I don’t think they have any right to open markets, malls and other places and even schools, as they are trying to do now.”

Haryana Health Minister Anil Vij added that his state will not deny treatment to outsiders. “We cannot put restrictions and deny treatment to anyone if he/she, who is from outside Haryana and falls ill in the state or is taken ill while in transit,” he said. “We will treat such patients. We cannot be harsh like Arvind Kejriwal.”

Follow today’s updates on the coronavirus here.

Bahujan Samaj Party chief Mayawati urged the Centre to intervene in Delhi government’s decision. “Delhi is the national Capital and people from all across the country come here for various reasons,” she said in a tweet. “If an outsider falls sick in Delhi, he will be denied treatment saying he is not a local resident. This is very unfortunate. The Centre should intervene in this decision.”

Union minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi had on Saturday castigated Kejriwal’s decision to reserve beds, NDTV reported. “How can Delhi’s beds be reserved for people of Delhi,” he asked. “How can Mumbai’s beds be only for Mumbaikars? How can Kolkata’s beds be only for people of Kolkata? There isn’t a requirement of passport and visa to come to Delhi. People from all across the country come to the national Capital for treatment. There shouldn’t be any politics in this. There is a need for sensitivity.”

Health minister blames Centre’s policies

Delhi Health Minister Satyendar Jain, however, blamed the Centre for taking such a decision, ANI reported. “People of Delhi and Mumbai were most affected due to coronavirus as flights from foreign countries landed in both cities...If Centre would’ve stopped international flights in time, situation could’ve been better,” he said. “Given the cases, hospitals are needed for Delhites. Neighboring states say they have less cases so it shouldn’t be issue.”

The Capital has lately seen more than 1,000 new cases of the coronavirus daily and would need as many as 17,000 beds in the next 15 days, Jain claimed, in defence of the government’s decision, NDTV reported. “So, the people of Delhi need space for treatment,” he added. “Besides, neighbouring states say they do not even have coronavirus cases. If they are not even saying they have virus cases then what is the issue?”

Asked whether Delhi would also follow Mumbai’s policy of fixing rates of treatment for hospitals, the minister told the channel that the government has already asked for details of charges. “After studying that we will see,” he said.

Private hospitals had been asked to list charges for Covid-19 treatment as it was important for patients and their families to know exactly what they would need to pay before admission in a hospital, he added.

The chief minister’s decision to reserve beds was announced as complaints mounted on social media that hospitals in Delhi were turning back people affected by the coronavirus. The Aam Aadmi Party has repeatedly claimed that there was no shortage of beds for coronavirus patients in Delhi. But relatives of several patients have told that they were unable to get beds in hospitals across the national Capital as authorities cited a shortage. They also said that the information on the “Delhi Corona” app – meant to display the availability of beds at both private and government hospitals in the city – does not tally with position on the ground.

Many social media users also pointed out that Kejriwal was born in Haryana and even went to Bengaluru for naturopathy treatment. Here are some reactions:

Also read: As Delhi reserves hospital beds for residents, here are documents to prove eligibility