Delhi Lieutenant Governor Anil Baijal on Friday made a five-day institutional quarantine mandatory for all coronavirus patients. Such cases, after institutional quarantine, will be sent back to home isolation, except where symptoms require further hospitalisation, an order issued by Baijal in his capacity as chairperson of the Delhi Disaster Management Authority said.
However, it is not clear whether this only applies to those testing positive now or existing patients under home quarantine as well. Over 10,000 patients in Delhi are under home isolation currently. Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal has repeatedly advocated for home quarantine, saying otherwise it would strain the city’s already stretched health infrastructure.
Baijal claimed the lack of “physical contact” to monitor patients during home isolation may be a reason for rising number of infections in Delhi. “Mandatory physical verification of each case under home isolation is to be carried out by the surveillance teams of the district surveillance officers under overall supervision of the district magistrate,” the order said.
The Arvind Kejriwal-led Aam Aadmi Party criticised the move, calling it an “arbitrary” decision that will “seriously harm” people, according to PTI. The Delhi government also pointed out that there was already a severe shortage of doctors and nurses to treat patients in critical condition, asking where they would get the required medical manpower to monitor quarantine centres.
“Today’s order of the Central government stopping home isolation will discourage people from testing and further spread coronavirus as asymptomatic and mild symptom patients will resist testing and will not be quarantined,” it added.
Meanwhile, AAP Kalkaji MLA Atishi, who is among those under home isolation after testing positive for coronavirus earlier this week, claimed the new norms would lead to more coronavirus cases. “Ending the option of Home Isolation will lead to further spread of corona, as many people will be scared of institutional quarantine and will not get themselves tested,” she tweeted. “They will continue to function as normal and spread the Covid-19 virus.”
Atishi claimed that 80% of patients under home isolation have very mild symptoms. “They don’t need medical facilities to recover, they need the comfort of their own homes and love and support of their families,” she added. “Forced quarantine will deny them that.”
For the first time, Delhi recorded over 3,000 fresh coronavirus cases on Friday. This is the biggest jump in cases and the national Capital now has 53,116 cases. With 66 fatalities in 24 hours, the toll reached 2,035.