All states should follow the "Delhi model" to control the spread of the COVID-19 virus, Union Minister of State (Home) G Kishan Reddy said Saturday, in a moment of praise for the Arvind Kejriwal government that has frequently found itself at odds with the centre over managing the outbreak in the national capital.
"You know, Delhi (is) a union territory (that) I am personally monitoring. There is 84 per cent recovery rate in Delhi. All the states should emulate the Delhi model," Kishan Reddy said at an event in Hyderabad's Telangana Institute of Medical Sciences and Research (TIMS).
Mr Reddy's comments - he also referred to Delhi's 84 per cent recovery rate, which compares favourably with the national average of 64.52 per cent - comes a day after Delhi Lieutenant Governor Anil Baijal rejected two moves by Mr Kejriwal's government as part of the third phase of easing the lockdown.
The COVID-19 situation continues to be "fragile" and the threat is still "far from over", which is why this decision has been taken, news agency PTI quoted sources in his office as saying in response to questions over his latest reversal of Delhi government orders.
The rejection prompted Mr Kejriwal's AAP (Aam Aadmi Party) to demand the centre stop interfering in its decisions, particularly since coronavirus cases in the national capital appear to be on the decline; the city has now dropped to 11th place on the list of active cases.
"The centre derives sadistic pleasure by inflicting pain and misery on people of Delhi and undermining the democratically elected government of Delhi," AAP spokesperson Raghav Chadha said.
Mr Baijal, who represents the centre and chairs the Delhi Disaster Management Authority, has in the past scrapped a number of others orders pitched by the Delhi government.
In June he cancelled a decision to reserve hospitals (except those run by the centre) for residents of Delhi. He also reversed a decision to test only those showing symptoms and said asymptomatic cases and high-risk contacts of a virus patient should also be tested.
Meanwhile, Mr Kishan Reddy also called on Telangana to increase coronavirus testing.
"I am requesting state government to focus on testing, tracing and treatment. There is a need to increase the number of tests. The more number of the tests, the faster the containment of the disease," he added.
Mr Reddy's call to increase testing was the subject on which the Delhi High Court grilled the Kejriwal government this week; the court demanded to know why the less accurate RAT (rapid antigen test) was being favoured over the RT-PCR test.
Delhi, which can conduct 11,000 RT-PCR tests a day but did not carry out more than 600 per day between July 15 and July 23. The drop in RT-PCR tests also coincided with a drop in the number of new cases reported in the city every day.
Mr Reddy also assured Telangana, which has reported over 62,000 COVID-19 cases so far, of support from the centre, pointing out that 1,200 ventilators and large consignments of N95 face masks and PPEs (personal protective equipment) were being to the state.
India is hurtling towards 17 lakh coronavirus cases, of which over 36,000 are deaths and more than 5.65 lakh are active cases. The country took just 73 days to go from one lakh cases to 16 lakh; it reached that mark yesterday. Over 60 per cent of the cases and 50 per cent of deaths have been recorded in July.
With input from PTI