Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal piped down his government’s war of words with the Centre and Lieutenant Governor over coronavirus handling on Wednesday, though nearly doubling the projection of beds needed in the Capital by July-end if people from other states continue to be admitted to its hospitals.
Kejriwal said his administration will implement Lt-Governor Anil Baijal’s order scrapping its decision to reserve beds in the Capital for Delhi residents and to treat patients from across the country in “letter and spirit”.
While Deputy CM Manish Sisodia Tuesday said Delhi was looking at 5.5 lakh cases and requirement of 80,000 beds by July end, Kejriwal said that figure took into account only Delhi residents. Counting people from other states who might take treatment here, the requirement will be over 1.5 lakh beds by then and 65,000 beds by July 15, the CM said.
He said his assessment was based on the fact that people from other states accounted for over 50% occupancy in Delhi hospitals during non-Covid times.
At the same time, Kejriwal repeatedly stressed on the need to set aside bickering. A day after Sisodia said the BJP had forced the L-G’s hand and “would be responsible for deaths on account of Covid in the city”, the CM said, “The Centre has taken a decision and the L-G has implemented an order. There is no room for disagreements now. The challenge we are staring at is unprecedented. The decision of the L-G has to be implemented in letter and spirit. There is no dispute on this subject anymore and I want to make this clear to everyone, including our own government and party.”
Kejriwal also reached out to neighbouring states, which have been attacked by AAP leaders over “mismanagement” of the coronavirus crisis. The CM said he was sure they were making arrangements at their end. “I don’t want to indulge in any blame-game. I will myself hit the ground tomorrow. Stadia, banquets will be prepared (to raise coronavirus facilities).”
In a tweet later, Kejriwal said he met Union Home Minister Amit Shah to discuss the Covid-19 situation in Delhi. “He assured of all cooperation.”
The CM also made a conciliatory gesture towards the media, thanking it for pointing out shortcomings in the healthcare system. “In eight days, over 1,900 people have got beds… over 100 to 150 may have had to run around to get one. There are around 4,200 beds vacant in hospitals, but private ones are mostly full. We are not perfect, not everything is right with the system, but not everything is bad either… This is not the right time for politics, BJP vs AAP, or AAP vs BJP. If we keep fighting, corona will win.”
Official records show that of the 9,179 beds available across state, central and private hospitals in Delhi, 4,914 were occupied Wednesday. Health Minister Satyendar Jain said they were trying to take the number of beds to 15,000 by June 20.
On Wednesday, the L-G directed the Chief Secretary to ensure that all major hospitals, clinics and nursing homes in Delhi display the availability of beds (both Covid and non-Covid) on LED boards “conspicuously outside their establishments, at the entry point itself, alongwith charges for rooms/ beds and details of contact persons for admission”.
Kejriwal said the fight against coronavirus needs to be a “public movement”. “We need to sensitise others to wear masks, use hand sanitisers and practise social distancing.”
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