NEW DELHI: Lieutenant governor Anil Baijal has rolled back his order making five days of institutional quarantine for all Covid-19 positive cases under home isolation — even if mild or asymptomatic — mandatory. The decision follows strong opposition from chief minister Arvind Kejriwal at a meeting of the Delhi Disaster Management Authority (DDMA).
The CM had said it would create chaos and people would avoid testing, leading to further spread. He explained the government’s position to the LG and clarified all the doubts the latter had about home isolation. Covid-19 positive cases have crossed the 53,000 mark in Delhi and have claimed more than 2,000 lives.
According to the amended order, all individuals who are positive will be referred to Covid care centres for assessment of clinical condition, severity of illness and presence of co-morbidities. Simultaneously, a physical assessment will be carried out to determine whether adequate facilities for home isolation, like a minimum of two rooms and a separate toilet, exist so that family members and neighbours are protected and no cluster comes up in the area. All the districts have Covid care centres where people who test positive can go for a clinical assessment.
The LG’s office said in a statement that if the facilities for home isolation were adequate and the person did not require hospitalisation, s/he would be given the option of staying at a Covid centre or a paid isolation facility like a hotel, or go for home isolation. All those under home isolation will be required to strictly follow the guidelines of the ministry of health and family welfare and stay in touch with healthcare providers so they can be moved to Covid hospitals if their condition deteriorates.
The LG announced his decision first in a tweet. "Regarding institutional isolation, only those Covid positive cases which do not require hospitalisation on clinical assessment and do not have adequate facilities for home isolation would be required to undergo institutional isolation," he tweeted.
Meanwhile, the services of a private agency managing those under home isolation have been restored till Monday, said the Delhi government. The LG has asked the health department to prepare a detailed presentation and submit a concrete proposal to the DDMA on Monday about managing the entire process in-house or propose an alternative plan for managing home isolation. He had discontinued the services of the private agency in his Friday order.
Earlier, at the DDMA meeting, which he attended through video-conferencing, Kejriwal had pointed out the challenges in implementing the LG’s Friday order and urged him to roll it back. He had raised the huge problem of making arrangements for a large number of people because most of those infected are asymptomatic or have mild symptoms.
After the rollback, deputy CM Manish Sisodia said: "We express our gratitude to the LG for the decision. Under the leadership of chief minister Arvind Kejriwal, we will not let the people of Delhi suffer."
The AAP government had termed the LG’s order as a big blunder in the fight against Covid-19 and expressed the apprehension that it may cause the healthcare infrastructure to collapse. On Saturday morning, party functionaries, including MP Sanjay Singh, mounted huge pressure on the LG and the Centre for a rollback.
Calling the order dictatorial, Singh had said while the rest of the country was allowed home isolation, a different rule had been made for the people of Delhi. He wondered if people would be put inside railway coaches. AAP MLA Raghav Chadha said the order will discourage people from undergoing tests.
At present, the Delhi government has only 6,000 beds in all its institutional quarantine facilities while the number of people currently under home isolation is over 10,000. New facilities are being created — 8,000 beds in railway coaches and 10,000 beds at a religious institute in south Delhi.