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Staff crunch, AC trouble: Hotels for Covid patients flag issues

The Delhi government has identified around 77 banquet halls across 10 districts, where 11,229 beds can be put, while 40 hotels, with combined capacity of 4,628 beds, have also been earmarked to be attached with private hospitals.

Written by Sourav Roy Barman | New Delhi | June 15, 2020 2:23:33 am
Staff crunch, AC trouble: Hotels for Covid patients flag issues A banquet hall converted into a Covid facility

Manpower shortage, dysfunctional air-conditioning, distance from health facilities — these are among the issues flagged by hotels, recently identified by the Delhi government to be attached with hospitals for Covid patients. The government has identified around 77 banquet halls across 10 districts, where 11,229 beds can be put, while 40 hotels, with combined capacity of 4,628 beds, have also been earmarked to be attached with private hospitals.

As per official records, the issues raised by some of the hotels include “manpower shortage; AC plant is not operational and the owner is reluctant to invest in making the hotel operational; hotel is around 10 km away from the hospital, however there is no better option available in the nearby area”.

Among the major hotels identified by the government are Hotel Oberoi Maidens in Civil Lines, Hotel Hyatt Regency in Vasant Vihar and Radisson Blu in Paschim Vihar.

The state government had on May 29 directed that five premier hotels be converted into hospitals. One of the hotels approached the Delhi High Court against the move, and the matter is currently pending. At least one hotel has already been converted.

The government also plans to rope in RWAs, many of whom have proposed using their community centres and arranging beds attached with oxygen cylinders. One such Greater Kailash-based RWA will be present in a scheduled meeting of the Delhi Disaster Management Authority on Tuesday. As reported by The Indian Express, some RWAs have already taken matters into their own hands.

Apart from hotels, the government has also identified the centre of a spiritual organisation at South Delhi, as well as Pragati Maidan and Talkatora Stadium to be used as makeshift Covid hospitals. L-G Anil Baijal Sunday visited the South Delhi centre, belonging to Radha Soami Satsang, where the government plans to put up around 10,000 beds.

“We will take it forward after assessing challenges and overall feasibility. All the various requirements will be examined,” Baijal told reporters. The Indian Express had on June 13 reported that the government is planning to use the area under the sprawling tent at the centre, typically the site for spiritual congregations, for creating around 200 enclosures with 50 beds each.

South district officials said the plan was to operationalise the facility within the next fortnight. However, in view of Delhi’s heat, maintaining suitable temperature inside the enclosures using air coolers will be a daunting task, officials said.

As reported by The Indian Express, the Delhi government will also use 500 Covid isolation coaches of the Indian Railways to supplement the medical infrastructure under growing strain. On Sunday, the North MCD’s Hindu Rao Hospital was also designated as a Covid-only facility.

As on Sunday, Delhi had 9,828 beds across state, Centre and private-run hospitals, out of which 5,422 were occupied.

There are 1,470 beds in five Centre-run hospitals, out of which 1,156 are taken. At five Delhi government hospitals, 1,370 out of 4,360 beds are occupied, and at private hospitals 2,896 out of 4,902 beds for coronavirus patients are full.

While there is no word yet on whether the stay at banquet halls will be free of cost, those availing the facilities at hotels will be expected to shell out over Rs 60,000 per week in case of three- or four-star category hotels and over Rs 70,000 in case of five-star hotels.

The makeshift hospitals at banquet halls and stadiums are going to mostly fall under the category of Covid health centres for patients with moderate symptoms requiring oxygenation. The other two categories are Covid care centres for patients with mild symptoms and Covid-designated hospitals for those with severe symptoms, requiring ICU support and ventilators.

According to the government’s corona dashboard, as many as 406 out of 611 ICU/ventilator beds in the city are occupied.

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