Coronavirus | Delhi’s hospitals only for its ‘residents’, says Arvind Kejriwal

Central government facilities are open to all.

As complaints mounted on social media of poor treatment at Delhi’s hospitals, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal announced on Sunday that all government and private hospitals in the city would only treat Delhi residents till the rising COVID-19 cases are contained.

While informing people of this first-of-its-kind decision in the country to “reserve” hospitals even as cases mushroomed in the national capital, Mr. Kejriwal, said there were several Central government hospitals in the city that would continue to treat all patients.

Residents will be identified by voter IDs, bank passbooks, ration cards, driving licences, phone and electricity bills in addition to Aadhaar cards issued before June 7, among other documents bearing a residential address from the city.

The Delhi government also decided to open the borders of the city from June 8; the closure was implemented more in the breach, as people moved in and out of the city with ease.

Mismanagement, says Congress

Launching a sharp attack on the Kejriwal government, Delhi Congress leader Ajay Maken claimed that 33 of the 38 government hospitals were not treating COVID-19 patients. He also said Delhi was not prepared for the opening of malls, restaurants and places of worship from Monday.

Addressing an online press conference, Mr. Kejriwal said there was a need to maintain a balance in Delhi as the State government hospitals have around 10,000 beds and the Central government hospitals have another 10,000 beds.

“For now, we have decided that the 10,000 beds under the Delhi government will be kept for residents. The beds under the Central government can be used by all,” he said.

“Private hospitals covering special treatments and surgeries will be open for all. This will make a balance for both the residents of Delhi and the people from all over the country,” he said.

Last week, Mr. Kejriwal had asked people of the city for suggestions on whether hospital beds should be reserved for residents. “The decision was taken after nearly 90% of people of the 7.5 lakh people who sent their suggestions said that till the COVID situation exists, the Delhi hospitals should be reserved for the people of Delhi,” the Chief Minister said.

 He said the five-member expert committee, headed by Vice-Chancellor of Guru Gobind Singh Indraprastha University Mahesh Verma had studied the situation in light of the increasing number of cases and in its report said that by the end of June, Delhi will need nearly 15,000 beds for COVID-19 patients. “They have suggested reserving the Delhi hospitals for the people of Delhi because if we open the hospitals for all then the COVID beds we have will be filled within three days,” said Mr. Kejriwal.

 The Chief Minister added that at any given time nearly 60-70% of patients in Delhi hospitals are from other States and the government has never denied treatment to any person. However, in the current situation, the government needed the infrastructure to arrange more beds for the people of the city.

 Responding to the new order, All India Institute of Medical Science director Dr. Randeep Guleria said living with COVID-19 is now the new normal.

 “Every individual should take the responsibility to protect oneself and family from COVID-19 and arrest the spread of virus,” Dr Guleria said and added that while the country is well placed to deal with COVID-19, following social distancing, boosting immunity and being responsible towards vulnerable population is a must.

With inputs from The Hindu