Amit Shah, Health Minister, Arvind Kejriwal To Meet Tomorrow On COVID-19

On Friday Delhi reported 2,137 new COVID-19 cases - the first time that over 2,000 fresh infections were reported in a 24-hour period in the national capital

Amit Shah, Health Minister, Arvind Kejriwal To Meet Tomorrow On COVID-19

Home Minister Amit Shah and Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal to meet on Sunday

New Delhi:

Union Home Minister Amit Shah and Health Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan will meet Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and Lieutenant Governor Anil Baijal on Sunday to review the coronavirus situation in the national capital, which has reported nearly 40,000 COVID-19 cases and 1,214 deaths so far.

Members of the SDMA (State Disaster Management Authority) will also attend, the Home Ministry tweeted Saturday evening, adding that Dr Randeep Guleria, Director of AIIMS (All India Institute of Medical Sciences) would also be present.

The meeting will be followed by one between Dr Harsh Vardhan with mayors of Delhi municipal corporations at 5 pm. Mr Kejriwal, Mr Baijal, Dr Guleria and senior officers from the Home and Health ministries will also attend.

Amit Shah and Arvind Kejriwal also met on Wednesday, a day after the Chief Minister tested negative for the virus. After that meeting Mr Kejriwal tweeted that the Home Minister had "assured all cooperation".

Sunday's meeting will come amid a worrying spike in infections in the city; on Friday evening Delhi reported 2,137 new COVID-19 cases in a 24-hour period.

The total number of cases in Delhi, the third worst-affected state, has now crossed 36,000, with 1,214 deaths linked to the virus. Only Maharashtra (1.01 lakh cases, 3,717 deaths) and Tamil Nadu (40,698 cases and 367 deaths) have fared worse than Delhi.

On Friday the Supreme Court pulled up the Delhi government over the "horrendous, horrific and pathetic" situation in the city and said coronavirus patients were being treated "worse than animals".

The court also asked the government to explain the fall in testing rates; it pointed out testing had "gone down from 7,000 to 5,000 a day when Chennai and Mumbai have increased...".

On Tuesday Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia said COVID-19 cases in the city could rise to one lakh by end-June and 5.5 lakh by end-July. The surge will stress an already overburdened health infrastructure, he said.

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Amit Shah and Arvind Kejriwal met Wednesday to discuss the coronavirus situation in Delhi

Mr Sisodia's comment came a day after Lt Governor Anil Baijal scrapped a Delhi government proposal to reserve state-run hospital beds for Delhi residents. Mr Baijal overturned the decision, saying treatment "should not be denied to any patient on grounds of being a non-resident".

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Arvind Kejriwal, who had earlier repeatedly said that Delhi was prepared to tackle the coronavirus outbreak, said his government would abide by the decision without protest. "If political parties keep fighting, corona will win... You cannot even imagine the crisis we are in," he said.

Mr Kejriwal had called for beds to be reserved after estimates said the coronavirus outbreak represented a huge and unprecedented challenge 1.5 lakh hospital beds would be needed for COVID-19 patients, including those from outside the city, by the end of next month.

The spike in Delhi is mirrored by a similar increase in coronavirus cases nationwide; over 11,000 cases were reported for the first time in a 24-hour period, government data showed Saturday morning. The increase in infections comes amid further relaxation in lockdown rules that came into effect Monday.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi will meet Chief Ministers of various states, including Mr Kejriwal, next week to discuss the situation. This will be the sixth meeting between them and the first since May 12.

India now has over three lakh confirmed cases and 8,884 deaths.

Only the United States (20.5 lakh cases, 1.14 lakh deaths), Brazil (8.29 lakh cases and 41,828 deaths) and Russia (5.11 lakh cases, 6,705 deaths) have fared worse.