At 11.30 am on Monday, Delhi Health Minister Satyendar Jain reached his office at Delhi Secretariat, almost a month after he had tested positive for Covid-19. With dipping oxygen levels, he had been administered plasma therapy last month. His first day back at work was spent clearing almost 70 files. The Indian Express spoke to him about combating Covid — both personally and for the city.
How has the past month been?
The most important thing during treatment of Covid-19 is to stay positive. I never lost hope even though doctors and people around me were getting worried about my health. During the entire treatment, I was never scared. I never felt I have been diagnosed with a serious illness; in fact, I pushed myself to stay active. When I was in the ICU, I insisted that doctors shift me to the room at the earliest, and then I was determined to get discharged soon. People should not be scared at all. If the disease will not take your life, panic may lead to trouble. Delhi’s medical system is one of the best in the country. I think ours is the only state which has ramped up facilities in an aggressive manner in a short period of time.
You were first admitted to Rajiv Gandhi Super Speciality hospital, but later shifted to Max Saket.
As my condition deteriorated, doctors suggested going for plasma therapy. But by that time, the hospital (Rajiv Gandhi) had not received the nod to start the therapy. I was told the permission was expected in the next few days. I was adamant to stay there for the treatment but my wife panicked. She had lost her father recently and was already worried. She immediately called the CM and I was shifted to another hospital against my wishes (laughs). The government hospitals in Delhi are in no way inferior to private hospitals.
Delhi has seen a dip in the number of cases. What comes next?
Even though the numbers are going down, we need to stay cautious and can’t let our guard down. We don’t know how this virus will behave. For instance, in the US, initially it looked that the numbers are manageable. But now, it’s reporting the highest number of cases. The virus seems to have washed away from Europe but we still don’t know. So we have to wait and watch. We can’t be celebrating that the virus is over. Earlier, people used to say that the virus is being spread from Delhi to their states, but it can be completely opposite now. Cases of Covid started in Delhi as thousands from across the globe travelled to the city and stayed here. That was the reason behind the dramatic increase in the numbers.
What helped bring Delhi back on track?
As per our plan, the next target was to increase bed capacity to 30,000. But that plan has been put on hold as the situation is under control right now. However, we are not leaving any changes in the existing setup. We have created a bed capacity of 15,000 as per projections, and even the CM has said there will be no alterations in the ongoing plan.
The Delhi Corona App was then put into place, beds were added and soon the process was eased out. At present, an adequate number of beds are available, which is one of the reasons people are assured and sitting at home. The reason behind the success of home isolation is the large number of beds arranged by the Delhi government. If we had started home isolation and beds were not available, people would have been worried. Now people are assured that they will get a bed even in the middle of the night. Ours was the first government to distribute pulse oximeters. These have been game-changers.
On Monday, the Uttar Pradesh government also started home isolation for patients. Do you feel other states should follow suit?
Whatever the good practices, everyone must follow. Delhi had to do it earlier because it was the need of the hour. For instance, when we converted Lok Nayak into a complete Covid facility of 2,000 beds, questions were raised on the need. But there was a time when 1,000 patients were admitted to the hospital. If we hadn’t created the facility, how would we have handled the situation?
How does it feel to be back at work? What have the doctors recommended?
Doctors will always ask you to rest. But I have a different definition of rest… To rest is to be at the place where you enjoy it — I enjoy work so I feel best while I am working.
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