While the Delhi government maintains that there is no shortage of beds for coronavirus patients in the capital, a number of prominent hospitals in the city have told NDTV that they are running at full capacity amid growing concerns over a surge in COVID-19 cases.
Max Hospitals, Fortis Hospitals and Holy Family Hospital said they do not have any beds available despite a smartphone app developed by the Delhi government listing dozens of vacancies and officials assuring that there is no healthcare crisis in the capital city.
Following up the information from the "Delhi Corona" app which is meant to be fed by the hospitals themselves, NDTV called the Fortis group of hospitals which runs a number of medical facilities in the city to check if they indeed had 32 beds available for patients.
"We do not have any vacant beds right now but if you share patient details, we will work upon it. All beds are occupied even in the ICUs (Intensive Care Units). There is a problem with the app," a representative said.
A similar reply was provided by the Holy Family Hospital in south Delhi, which said none of the 69 beds listed as available on the app were actually vacant.
"No beds are available right now. The app is not being updated," an official in the admissions department said.
Max Hospitals, which runs a network of facilities in Delhi, also said they had no available beds even though the Delhi Corona app claimed it had around 200 vacancies.
"We are operating at 100 per cent occupancy across networks. We have no beds vacant at any facilities. All 429 beds deployed in Delhi are occupied," a representative from Max Hospitals told NDTV.
The data on the app was later updated to match its response.
The Rajiv Gandhi Super Speciality Hospital (RGSSH), however, said it did have around 270 beds available as against 302 listed on the app.
"We have around 270 beds available. We are only facing a problem of manpower which we are trying to fix," a senior official at RGSSH said.
The discrepancy between the data on the app and the response from hospitals is adding to the confusion and distress among families of coronavirus patients in Delhi.
Acknowledging the problem, Aam Aadmi Party MLA Raghav Chadha said, "This mobile application is a one-of-a-kind initiative and we are the only state government in the country to make this data completely transparent... This app was launched only a few days ago. There are some teething issues and I am very hopeful in a day or two they will be dealt with."
Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal addressed the concerns on Saturday, insisting that there is no shortage of beds for critical coronavirus patients in Delhi and no one showing symptoms should be turned away.
"Some hospitals are denying admission to COVID-19 patients. I am warning those who think they will be able to do black-marketing of beds using the influence of their protectors from other parties, you will not be spared," Mr Kejriwal said.
"Please allow a few days for us to sort this out. We will investigate and take action against those who are refusing patients even when beds are available... Some are involved in black-marketing of beds," the Chief Minister said.
Delhi Health Minister Satyendar Jain on Friday had said there are around 5,000 beds available for coronavirus patients and the "issue" was that some hospitals are not updating the data on time or misrepresenting actual information on availability of beds when patients call.
Delhi has recorded a sharp spike in coronavirus cases in recent days, registering more than 1,000 new cases each day.
The city reported 1,320 new coronavirus cases on Saturday, taking its tally to over 27,000 while the number of deaths climbed to 761.