Delhi has 28,936 total confirmed cases — 17,125 active cases and 812 deaths — according to the Union health ministry data.
The Arvind Kejriwal-led government, which had said back in April that it would follow a 5T plan (testing, tracing, treatment, teamwork and tracking) to limit the growing number of cases, is now floundering. Ironically, it had registered a convincing victory in the February assembly elections due to its groundwork on education and health facilities. It has come under harsh criticism from people who are unable to get beds in hospitals, from the opposition for alleged “mismanagement” and the Centre for its low testing level.
Here are four controversies that the Delhi government is currently dealing with.
1. Hospitals only for Delhi residents: The Kejriwal government had issued an order on Sunday that Delhi government and private hospitals will be reserved for residents of the capital. Chief Minister Kejriwal had said that central government hospitals will have no such restrictions and will continue to treat all patients.
Addressing an online media briefing on Sunday, Kejriwal had said that people from other states can also come to the national capital for specific surgeries and get medical treatment at private hospitals.
This was overruled by the Lieutenant Governor on Monday, according to reports. Anil Baijal said treatment “should not be denied to any patient on grounds of being a non-resident”, NDTV reported.
The opposition severely criticised the AAP government for the decision. Delhi BJP president Adesh Gupta said any person, whether from Delhi or outside, should be treated in hospitals of the city.
Delhi Congress president Anil Kumar, according to PTI, alleged that this was diversionary tactics by the AAP government to shift focus from shortage of beds for Covid-19 patients in the national capital.
“There are not enough number of beds for coronavirus patients in Delhi. Kejriwal should tell if his government will deny treatment to large number of people from other states, specially from UP and Bihar, who live in Delhi but do not have any identity or address proof,” Kumar said, according to PTI.
When Kejriwal said he had sought public opinion over whether to reserve hospitals for Delhi residents, experts told Hindustan Times that it could be seen as a violation of the right to life. There are also fears that insisting on identity cards could lead to even more chaos for overworked hospitals.
2. Testing criteria: Kejriwal on Saturday appealed that “asymptomatic people should not insist on getting tested” because the system will collapse if they do.
“The priority is to save the lives of serious patients. The people with mild symptoms or who are asymptomatic can recover. If all asymptomatic patients start going to the labs for tests then the system will collapse,” he had said.
A doctor at Sir Ganga Ram hospital told Hindustan Times that asymptomatic carriers are a huge number and run the risk of infecting others. “You need to open up testing criteria because these people otherwise will keep spreading the infection without knowing,” the doctor, who did not want to be named, said.
Former Indian Medical Association (IMA) chief Dr KK Aggarwal has also moved the Delhi High Court against Delhi’s decision to not test asymptomatic people.
The PIL, according to ANI, said that the government’s order “violates and infringes the fundamental right to health of the citizen which also includes the right to avail medical test and treatment”.
The petition also said that asymptomatic patients and pre-symptomatic patients will not get proper treatment if denied testing and soon they will become symptomatic patients, ANI added.
3. Mismatch between app data and ground reality: The Delhi government launched an app earlier this month which shows the number of available and occupied beds in hospitals in the national capital. But several people complained last week that while the app shows that hospitals have beds, they or people they know have been denied admission in these places.
HuffPost India had also found discrepancies between the numbers shows by the app and those available at the hospitals.
The opposition had also attacked the Delhi government over this mismatch in numbers.
Addressing the issue, Kejriwal said that while most private hospitals are doing a good job, some are indulging in “black-marketing”.
“Most private hospitals are good, but there are 2-3 private hospitals (that) do black-marketing. We thought that if information on availability of beds and ventilators is made transparent, people will get to know everything about this,” he said.
He said some hospitals are lying about the information on availability of beds and that hospitals are themselves updating the information on the app, not the government.
4. FIR against hospital: An FIR was lodged against Ganga Ram Hospital (SGRH) for allegedly violating Covid-19 regulation norms on the basis of a Delhi government complaint, according to PTI.
According to the first information report (FIR), the complainant is a senior official of the Delhi health department.
According to the complaint, the hospital was allegedly not using RT-PCR app while collecting Covid-19 samples. As per the guidelines, it is mandatory for labs to collect samples through RT-PCR app, it said.
The hospital, according to Hindustan Times, termed the FIR as “unwarranted” and “harassment”. Dr DS Rana, chairman, board of management of the hospital, was quoted as saying in the report that the hospital would contest the FIR.
“How can an FIR be filed for not providing data in the format that government wanted? We may not have followed their format but we have been regularly updating Covid data and sending it across to the authorities concerned. So we will ensure that the FIR is quashed even if that means we have to approach the court,” he was quoted as saying in the Hindustan Times report.
Rana, however, told The Indian Express that it is a simple communication gap which will be sorted out soon.
Rana also said that testing for Covid has been stopped at the hospital since June 3 when the Department of Health issued an order to the hospital asking for explanation on why “they have not started sample collection via RT PCR app”, according to The Indian Express.
The Delhi Medical Association (DMA) also condemned the FIR against Ganga Ram Hospital and slammed Kejriwal for “issuing warning” to hospitals
“Delhi Medical Association strongly condemns the way Delhi CM (chief minister) is warning the doctors and threatening the hospitals about Covid-19 patients admissions and tests,” the DMA said.
“Doctors who are serving the people of Delhi tirelessly from last two months in this pandemic crisis risking their lives feel insulted by the way they are being treated,” it said.
The Indian Express editorial on Monday said, “FIR on a hospital for procedural oversight in testing speaks of a high-handedness that is ill-advised, especially in crisis.”
(With PTI inputs)