Hospitals run by the Delhi government and some private hospitals will be reserved only for residents of the national capital, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said on Sunday, amid a huge controversy over availability of beds. At the same time, he said that Delhi will unseal its borders, which were sealed in the first place "thinking that our hospitals will be flooded with people from other states".
"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 treatment will be opened to all," the Chief Minister said. Then borders, he added, will be open from tomorrow. (Monday)
The number of coronavirus patients in the city has been spiralling over the last week, registering a jump of more than a thousand patients each day. The total in the national capital has now crossed 27,000.
The decision, Mr Kejriwal said, was made on the advice of a special five-member committee of doctors formed. The committee has estimated that by the end of June, Delhi will need 15,000 beds. "They believe that the 9,000 beds that are currently with us will be taken over in three days if we allow people from other states to take admission," Mr Kejriwal said at a virtual press conference.
The Chief Minister had also sought suggestions from the people after reports of no availability of beds in hospitals. Many others were turned away by hospitals, which said they were over-run with patients. Mr Kejriwal said 90 per cent of the residents suggested that hospitals be reserved for them till the coronavirus crisis is over.
Following the controversy over beds, the Delhi government had earlier blamed laboratories, saying they were testing asymptomatic patients, and hospitals for admitting them. Mr Kejriwal had also said a "black-marketing of hospital beds" was on. It is the hospitals which are in charge of updating the data in the "Delhi Corona" app that was launched last week.
With Delhi starved of revenue, Mr Kejriwal had announced in April that the city was "ready to lift the lockdown". At the time, he had also said Delhi's hospitals were ready to handle the spike in cases that might result.
The possible decision to reserve beds for Delhi citizens was slammed by Union Minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi.
In an interview to NDTV on Saturday, Mr Naqvi said: "How can Delhi's beds be reserved for people of Delhi? How can Mumbai's beds be only for Mumbaikars? How can Kolkata's beds be only for people of Kolkata? There isn't a requirement of passport and visa to come to Delhi. People from all across the country come to the national capital for treatment. There shouldn't be any politics in this. There is a need for sensitivity".