The constant tussle between the Arvind Kejriwal-led AAP government and Lieutenant Governor Anil Baijal is hurting Delhi’s Covid response at a time when the city has overtaken Mumbai to reach the highest tally of cases in India, say analysts.
Delhi has a total of 73,780 Covid-19 cases, according to the Union Health Ministry.
This week’s withdrawal of an order by Baijal directing all coronavirus positive patients to visit a Covid Care Centre for evaluation is only the latest in a series of policy disagreements between the Delhi government and the L-G, who is directly appointed by the central government.
“Delhi is in the greatest and gravest crisis at the moment. Both Arvind Kejriwal and Amit Shah have failed the people of Delhi,” senior lawyer and health activist Ashok Agarwal told HuffPost India. He said there is something “seriously flawed” in the method used by both the L-G and the Delhi government to come to important decisions.
While this isn’t the first time the Delhi government has locked horns with the L-G, but at the time of a pandemic, the back-and-forth has led to chaos and confusion in the national capital.
Issued and revoked
On 19 June, Baijal’s order made mandatory a five-day institutional quarantine for every Covid-19 patient under home quarantine in Delhi. Sisodia estimated that if home isolation is stopped and everybody is sent to quarantine centres then the national capital will require one lakh beds by June 30, according toLivemint.
The Delhi government called this decision arbitrary and asked the L-G to reconsider.
The order was changed the next day.
On 20 June, Baijal issued an order making it mandatory for every new Covid-19 patient to visit a care centre for clinical assessment.
Kejriwal then demanded that the L-G not change Delhi’s home isolation model which, he said, had been working well. The AAP government said that the ambulance and medical system were already under pressure.
L-G on Thursday, June 25, withdrew the new order and said only Covid-19 positive patients who don’t have “adequate facilities at home to ensure physical segregation and who don’t have other medical conditions would require to be shifted to Covid Care Centres.”
Arun Sharma, professor and director at University College of Medical Sciences, University of Delhi, told HuffPost India that the slew of orders is not only increasing confusion and creating panic among the people but also challenging the health care delivery system and “making it look like a circus”.
He said there needed to be proper discussion between L-G and the state government on such important policy matters. “It is embarrassing to see that in such times of crisis also, they are not working as a team.”
HuffPost India reached out to the L-G Office and AAP and this story will be updated when they respond.
Confusion and chaos
Several district officials confirmed toHindustan Times that they had already started putting patients in quarantine centres after the 19 June order and before the L-G revoked it on Saturday.
The Hindustan Times report also said that while the L-G and the Delhi government were engaged in dialogue over the five-day mandatory quarantine, several Covid-19 patients were moved to government care centres.
A Munirka resident toldThe New Indian Express that her husband was shifted to a Covid Care Centre and then soon shifted back. The resident pointed out that their relatives, unaware that the five-day mandatory quarantine order has been revoked, had gone to the Covid centre but were told to go back.
Jugal Kishore, head of community medicines department in Safdarjung hospital, told the Hindustan Times that mandatory visits to Covid Care Centre would have been “a logistical nightmare” and would have “increased chances of local transmission”.
Baijal had earlier this month overruled the Kejriwal government’s decision to reserve Delhi government and private hospitals for residents of the capital. The Delhi government had come under severe criticism with experts saying it could be seen as a ”violation of the right to life″.
The Chief Minister said L-G’s decision overruling the AAP government’s order “has created a huge problem and challenge for the people of Delhi”, but assured that the order will be implemented.