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Arvind Kejriwal key announcements: Hospitals only for Delhi residents; borders to open from tomorrow

While malls and restaurants will resume activity from Monday as per the Centre's guidelines, hotels and banquet halls in Delhi will remain shut, Arvind Kejriwal said. "These hotels and banquet halls might have to be turned into hospitals in the future," he said.

By: Express News Service | New Delhi | Updated: June 7, 2020 3:38:22 pm
delhi coronavirus, arvind kejriwal on coronavirus, delhi lockdown, delhi covid-19, delhi city news Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal.

The Delhi Cabinet decided Sunday that beds in hospitals run by the state government shall be reserved for residents of the national capital till the corona pandemic subsides, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal announced on Sunday. However, the decision will not cover hospitals like AIIMS and Safdarjung that come under the Union government, he added.

Reiterating his apprehension that city hospitals may get swamped by people from other states in the absence of restrictions, the chief minister, while addressing the citizens via video conferencing, said: “A five-member committee assessed the situation and found that by the end of June, we will be needing around 15,000 beds to treat infected patients. There are around 10,000 beds each in Delhi government and Centre-run hospitals. The Cabinet has decided that beds in Delhi government hospitals should be reserved only for people of Delhi.”

He added: “The Centre-run ones will be open to all. Even private hospitals will have to reserve beds for Delhi residents.”

The decision was taken following suggestions from the citizens as well an expert committee headed by vice-chancellor of IP University Dr Mahesh Verma.

A few private hospitals which perform special surgeries and attract patients from all over will also run as usual, the chief minister announced.

Besides this, Delhi borders, which were sealed last week, will be open for inter-state movement from Monday, Kejriwal said. “We are opening Delhi borders from tomorrow,” he said in his address to the citizens.

Also, while malls and restaurants will resume activity from Monday as per the Centre’s guidelines, hotels and banquet halls will remain shut, Kejriwal announced.

“We may need hotels and banquet halls to place beds and to attach them with hospitals as cases have been rising in Delhi,” he said.

With rising coronavirus figures in the city, the chief minister had last week sealed its borders, restricting the inter-state movement of non-Delhi residents while permitting only the operation of essential services.

Seeking “guidance”, the Aam Aadmi Party chief had said a final decision on whether or not beds in hospitals will be reserved for Delhi residents will be taken based on feedback from the public, experts and other stakeholders, for which the government had issued helpline numbers. Suggestions were accepted until June 5.

“Should Delhi’s borders be opened? Corona cases are rising in the city, but I have maintained that it is not a matter of worry as we have invested a lot in beefing up healthcare over the last five years. People from all across the country come to Delhi for their medical treatment because, first, Delhi’s healthcare system is better than the healthcare system of any other state in the country.”

He said there are suggestions that borders should be opened but medical treatment in the hospitals should only be available to residents of Delhi. “But how can we do that? Delhi is the national capital of the country and it belongs to all, even to people of Kerala, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand, and Maharashtra. How can Delhi deny treatment to all these people now? Some people believe that this practice should be adopted only until corona. We have various suggestions and we need your guidance on what should be done,” he said.

As part of relaxations, the chief minister last week removed the limit on the number of commuters that can be ferried by autos, e-rickshaws or gramin sewa vehicles. There will also be no cap in case of private cars, and two-wheelers will be allowed to ferry a pillion rider. “The cap was impractical,” Kejriwal said.

The Congress party however opposed the decision of opening up Delhi from Monday. Addressing a virtual press conference, senior Congress spokesperson Ajay Maken said, “It is premature for the Delhi government to open restaurants, malls from June 8 till health infrastructure is improved.” He said it was shameful that the Covid positivity rate in the national capital was the highest and its recovery rate the lowest in country. This is because Delhi hospitals are in bad shape, he said. He asked the Kejriwal-led government why the government hospitals were “refusing” admission to Covid patients, alleging that 72 per cent of the Covid-dedicated beds in Delhi were lying vacant.

(With inputs from PTI)

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