- Anil Baijal's order on Friday has been criticized by Delhi government
- Delhi has the third highest number of coronavirus cases in India
- The number of cases crossed the 50,000-mark on Friday
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal this afternoon opposed Lieutenant Governor Anil Baijal's order at a meeting, according to sources, which said that no coronavirus patient in the national capital must be allowed to undergo home isolation before a mandatory five-day institutional quarantine. The Lieutenant Governor's order - issued on Friday - has upset the Aam Aadmi Party government, which has been grappling with a shortage of hospital beds amid a spike in COVID-19 cases.
"When the nodal body - the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) - 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 Union Health Ministry's guidelines, "very mild/ pre-symptomatic patients have the option of home isolation".
Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia was also present at the meeting.Mr Baijal heads the Delhi Disaster Management Authority, the top decision-making body in the national capital amid the pandemic.
"Raiways 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 a 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 - cost of hospital beds in private hospitals and home isolation - were discussed during the meeting, he said.
The national capital has the highest number of cases in India after Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu. On Friday, the state's tally soared past the 50,000-mark as 3,000 new infections were reported.
Delhi's Lieutenant Governor, who has frequently clashed with Mr Kejriwal and his leaders, on Friday said in an 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 increase in spread of increase in COVID-19 infections in Delhi."
"Mandatory physical verification of each case under home isolation is to be carried out by the Surveillance teams of the District Surveillance officers under overall supervision of the District Magistrate," he said.
The Delhi government responded sharply to the centre's decision, pointing out shortage of healthcare staff. "Today's order of the Central government stopping home isolation will discourage people from testing and further spread coronavirus as asymptomatic and mild symptom patients will resist testing and will not be quarantined," it said.