Delhi’s Lieutenant Governor Anil Baijal on Monday issued an order prohibiting reserving state-run hospitals, and some private ones, for residents of the city. Baijal directed the government and medical authorities in the national Capital to ensure that treatment was not denied to anybody on the grounds that they were not residents of the city.
The Arvind Kejriwal-led Delhi government had on Sunday directed that these hospitals could only treat residents of the city, in an effort to ease pressure on beds caused due to the coronavirus crisis. Baijal passed the order as the chairperson of the Delhi Disaster Management Authority.
Currently, of the dedicated coronavirus hospitals, 13 hospitals in Delhi are private, while five are run by the state government, and four are under the Centre. With over 28,000 cases of the coronavirus and more than 800 deaths, Delhi is the third worst-hit state in the country after Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu. It has been reporting over 1,000 cases daily for the past few days.
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said that Baijal’s order has created a huge challenge for the Delhi government, which is already struggling to control the escalating coronavirus crisis. “It will be a huge challenge for the Delhi government to provide treatment to people coming from outside amid the coronavirus pandemic,” Kejriwal wrote on Twitter. “Maybe, it’s god’s will that we [Delhi] serve the whole nation. We will try to make arrangements for everyone’s treatment.”
Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia, meanwhile, accused the Bharatiya Janata Party of forcing Baijal to pass the order. “Why is the BJP doing politics over the coronavirus and trying to fail the policies of state governments?” he was quoted as saying by ANI.
Sisodia added that the decision to reserve hospital beds for Delhi residents was made after thorough deliberations. “The chief minister had planned how many beds were needed and how they would be be arranged,” he said.
On Sunday, Kejriwal had said that the decision was based on the findings made by a five-member expert panel constituted under his administration, which warned that the Capital will have over one lakh cases of the coronavirus by the end of June and would require 15,000 additional hospital beds by the end of the month. The committee added that if the government opens up hospitals for non-residents, all beds will be occupied within three days.
However, the decision had raised the hackles of Opposition parties, which unanimously condemned it.