NEW DELHI: A day after chief minister Arvind Kejriwal announced that all private hospitals, except the super-specialty ones, and state-run hospitals in the national capital will be reserved for “bona fide” residents of Delhi, lieutenant governor Anil Baijal reversed the order.
Exercising his powers as chairperson of the Delhi Disaster Management Authority under Section 18(3) of the Disaster Management Act, Baijal issued an order on Monday saying that no patient shall be denied treatment for not being a resident of the national capital.
The CM said this would create a huge problem for Delhi residents but seemed resigned to the situation. In a separate order, the LG also made it mandatory for the state authorities to follow the testing strategy laid down by the ICMR “without any deviation”, which includes testing of all asymptomatic persons who came in direct contact with a confirmed case.
The Delhi government had last week released its own Covid-19 testing strategy, omitting the testing of asymptomatic per sons who have been in contact with a confirmed case. The LG, who is the Centre’s appointee, and the Kejriwal government were at loggerheads over several issues during the AAP government’s previous term. This is the first time since AAP formed a government for the third time that the two have faced off.
Reacting to the LG’s order on not denying treatment on the basis of domicile, the CM, who is indisposed, said: “LG sahib’s order has created a huge problem and challenge for the people of Delhi. Providing treatment to people coming from all over the country during the corona epidemic is a big challenge. It seems to be God’s will that we serve the people of the entire country. We will try to provide treatment to all,” he tweeted in Hindi.
LG साहिब के आदेश ने दिल्ली के लोगों के लिए बहुत बड़ी समस्या और चुनौती पैदा कर दी हैदेशभर से आने वाले लोगों के लिए… https://t.co/hu1QvUs4zL— Arvind Kejriwal (@ArvindKejriwal) 1591626375000
Late in the evening, the principal secretary of the health and family welfare department of the Delhi government issued an order setting aside Sunday’s notification. The Delhi government had taken its decision on the basis of a report submitted by a five-member expert committee which suggested that all beds in Delhi would be occupied within 2-3 days if patients from outside the city were allowed to come for treatment.
Kejriwal had added that over 90% of the 7.5 lakh people who responded to his request for a feedback had also suggested the same. The LG Anil Baijal said the Delhi high court had, in its order on a writ petition filed by Social Jurists, a civil rights group, examined the constitutional provisions in detail, especially Article 14 and 21, and held that denying patients medical treatment on grounds of not being a resident of NCT of Delhi was impermissible. He added that the Supreme Court has also invariably held in successive judgments that “Right to Health” was an integral part of the "Right to Life" under Article 21 of the Constitution.
His order said: “…all government and private nursing homes/clinics situated in NCT of Delhi have to extend medical facilities to all Covid-19 patients coming for monitoring/treatment without any discrimination of being resident or non-resident of NCT of Delhi.”
The central government also issued a statement saying that the LG’s order would bring “relief to patients and their families from outside Delhi who are seeking treatment during the pandemic”. Kejriwal had said on Sunday said that the state-run hospitals and the Centre’s hospital had around 10,000 beds each.
“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. Private hospitals covering special treatments and surgeries will be open for all,” the chief minister had said.
In the second order, the LG insisted that ICMR’s strategy for testing for nine categories, including asymptomatic, direct and high-risk contacts of aconfirmed case between Day 5 and Day 10 of coming into contact, be followed in Delhi. “To contain the spread of Covid-19, it is essential to conduct a thorough contact tracing of the affected persons, especially in containment zones, and as such, the ICMR strategy for Covid-19 testing should be followed without any deviation,” Baijal said in his order.
He pointed out that the directorate general of health services had issued an order on June 2 changing the requirement of testing asymptomatic, direct and high-risk contacts of aconfirmed case. "This deviation in the ICMR guidelines can result in inadequate contact tracing of affected individuals and can result in further spread of Covid-19 in NCT of Delhi," he said in his order.