Delhi’s Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia on Saturday opposed Lieutenant Governor Anil Baijal’s order that made a five-day institutional quarantine mandatory for all coronavirus patients, saying it would lead to chaos in the city. The Arvind Kejriwal-led Aam Aadmi Party has described the move as arbitrary and said that will “seriously harm” people.
In a series of tweets, Sisodia said the LG order will be discussed at a meeting with the Delhi State Disaster Management Authority in the Capital. “We will oppose LG’s [Lieutenant Governor’s] order to scrap home isolation, and demand changing it,” he said. “This order to terminate home isolation is against the Indian Council of Medical Research guidelines and it will create chaos in Delhi.”
However, later in the day, Sisodia told ANI that a consensus on the matter could not be reached in the afternoon meeting. “Another meeting will be held at 5 pm today [Saturday],” he added.
According to Baijal’s order, all coronavirus patients will first be kept under institutional quarantine for five days and then allowed home isolation, except for cases where symptoms require further hospitalisation.
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.
During the meeting with the disaster management officials, Kejriwal reportedly questioned the basis of Baijal’s order. He also highlighted the ICMR’s guidelines on home isolation for asymptomatic and mildly symptomatic cases across the country, and asked why the rules were different for Delhi, PTI reported, quoting unidentified officials.
“Most corona patients are asymptomatic or with mild symptoms, how will arrangements be made for them?” the chief minister asked at the meeting. “The coaches provided by the Railways for isolation are hot inside where patients cannot stay.”
Under the existing guidelines of the Indian Council of Medical Research, very mild and pre-symptomatic Covid-19 patients can opt for home isolation provided the patients have a room to themselves with a toilet facility and an adult attendant or a caregiver. Also, the patient is expected to regularly monitor and provided daily updates of their health status to the district surveillance officer for further follow-up by the surveillance teams.
Aam Aadmi Party MLA Raghav Chadha also criticised Baijal’s order and said that this meant Delhi will need a total of 90,000 beds by June 30, NDTV reported. He further pointed out that the Capital is already tackling shortages and is struggling to find the 15,000 beds required so far.
“From where will we get these beds?” he asked, adding that the order would also make people nervous about getting tested. “I am already getting calls from the people of my constituency that they won’t get themselves tested for fear of being whisked away to quarantine centres.”
Union Minister G Kishan Reddy, meanwhile, defended the lieutenant governor’s order. “Delhi LG might have ordered institutional quarantine for the benefit of those who do not have space in their homes,” he told ANI. “But I think that he will issue another info[rmation] by today [Saturday] evening for people who can create an isolated separate room in their homes.”
Meanwhile, Sisodia also said the Centre should reduce the cost of 60% of the isolation beds for coronavirus patients in private hospitals instead of the suggested 24%, ANI reported.
This came a day after a panel set up by the Union Ministry of Home Affairs recommended lowering the cost of isolation beds and treatment in intensive care units of private hospitals in the Capital to tackle the escalating health crisis. The committee recommended cutting the cost of isolation beds to Rs 8,000-Rs 10,000 per day. This is nearly half of the present rates.
Delhi government asks its hospital staff on leave to resume work
The Delhi government on Saturday issued order advising all hospitals and medical institutions under it to recall their staff who is on leave to report for duty immediately ANI reported. It further asked hospital authorities to grant leaves to health care workers “only under most compelling circumstances”.
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.