By Vanshika Thakur
According to sources, this afternoon Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal opposed the order of Lieutenant Governor Anil Baijal at a meeting which stated that no coronavirus patient in the national capital should be permitted to go home for isolation before a mandatory five-day institutional quarantine. The order released on Friday by the Lieutenant Governor has angered the government of the AamAadmi Party, which has been dealing with a shortage of hospital beds due to an increase in COVID-19 cases.
“When the Indian Council of Medical Research gives the permission of isolation at homes for asymptomatic patients across the country, why should there be separate guidelines for Delhi? Most coronavirus patients are asymptomatic… how will we make arrangements for isolating them?” Mr. Kejriwal was quoted as saying by sources as he attended a Delhi Disaster Management Authority meeting this afternoon. According to the Union Health Ministry’s guidelines, “very mild/ pre-symptomatic patients have the option of home isolation”.
Also present at the meeting was Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia. Mr. Baijal heads the Delhi Disaster Management Authority, the national capital’s highest decision-making body during the pandemic.
“Railways has offered coaches… but how will someone stay there amid soaring temperatures? Should our priority be poor patients or those without symptoms? We are already grappling with a shortage of medical staff. Those who are asymptomatic may choose not to get tested over the fear of institutional quarantine. This may create chaos in the city,” Mr. Kejriwal further said, according to sources.
“Nowhere in the world have asymptomatic cases been sent to institutional quarantine,” the Delhi Chief Minister stressed, sources added.
The DDMA meeting ended without any conclusion after Delhi government’s objection, Manish Sisodia tweeted in Hindi. “The Delhi government objected to LG’s order on home isolation. No decision has been taken. Another meeting will be held in the evening,” he wrote. Two key points – the cost of hospital beds in private hospitals and home isolation – were discussed during the meeting, he said.
After Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu, the national capital has the largest number of cases in India. The state count soared past the 50,000-mark on Friday as 3,000 new infections were registered.
Delhi’s Lieutenant Governor, who has frequently clashed with Mr. Kejriwal and his leaders, on Friday said in order: “Delhi is reviewed regularly in the Ministry of Home Affairs and it was observed that ‘Home Isolation’ without physical contact to monitor the patients may be a reason for the increase in the spread of increase in COVID-19 infections in Delhi.”
“The Surveillance Teams of the District Surveillance Officers under the overall supervision of the District Magistrate shall carry out compulsory physical verification of each case under home isolation,” he ordered on Friday.
The government of Delhi reacted strongly to the decision of the center, pointing out a shortage of health-care staff. “The Central Government’s order today to avoid home isolation would deter people from testing and spread coronavirus further as patients with asymptomatic and mild symptoms would survive testing and will not be quarantined,” it said.