Union Home Minister Amit Shah on Sunday said that Centre will give Delhi 500 railway coaches and ramp up coronavirus testing amid a sharp increase in cases. His announcement came after his meeting with Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, the second in less than a week, to discuss the escalating health crisis in the Capital.
“To contain the spread of coronavirus in Delhi, testing capacity will be doubled in two days and tripled after six,” Shah tweeted after the meeting. “Keeping in mind the shortage of beds in the Capital, the Centre has decided to give 500 railway coaches to Delhi. With these coaches, the beds in Delhi will increase by 8,000. They will also be equipped with facilities to fight the infection.”
Shah added that house-to-house surveillance will be conducted to enable better contact-tracing in containment areas and people living there will have to install the Centre’s Aarogya Setu app on their phones. He also said that testing facilities will soon be made available at polling stations in containment zones.
He also ordered the immediate transfer of four Indian Administrative Service officers to the Delhi government and attachment of another two from the Centre to help the Kejriwal-led administration tackle the outbreak.
The home minister said that the Centre will form a committee to fix prices for coronavirus treatment in private hospitals and to decide on making 60% of beds at these hospitals available at reduced prices.
Kejriwal said the meeting between the Centre and the Delhi government was extremely productive. “Many key decisions taken,” he tweeted. “We will fight against corona together.”
The meeting was also attended by Lieutenant Governor Anil Baijal, Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia, All India Institute of Medical Sciences Director Dr Randeep Guleria and members of the State Disaster Management Authority.
Delhi is battling an alarming increase in the number of coronavirus cases, which has overwhelmed the city’s health infrastructure. Several reports have emerged of patients struggling to find hospital beds. On Friday, the Supreme Court had pulled up the Delhi government over the “deplorable conditions” at hospitals and the way bodies were being handled.
Delhi is the third worst coronavirus-affected state in India after Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu. On Saturday, the Capital reported 2,134 coronavirus cases and 57 deaths, taking the overall count to 38,958 and the toll to 1,271.
Earlier on Sunday, the Delhi government ordered the setting up of 20,000 new beds for coronavirus patients within a week. There will be 11,000 beds in banquets halls, 5,000 in nursing homes and 4,000 in hotels.