COVID-19 tests to be doubled in Delhi in next two days, committee set up to fix cost of treatment: HM Amit Shah

With COVID-19 cases rising alarmingly in Delhi, Union Home Minister Amit Shah on Sunday announced a slew of measures like doubling of testing in the national capital in the next two days and working out a mechanism to make available 60 per cent of beds in private hospitals at lower rates and fixing the price for coronavirus treatment.
The decisions were taken as Shah held meetings, first with Lieutenant Governor Anil Baijal, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan and others, and later with the mayors and top officials of municipal bodies, on the coronavirus situation.
Following the discussions, Shah also called a meeting of all political parties of Delhi on Monday to review the COVID-19 management situation in the national capital.
The COVID-19 tests will be started at every polling station in containment zones and a comprehensive house-to-house health survey will be conducted in the hotspots for contact tracing, the Home Minister said.
He said a committee has been constituted under the chairmanship of V K Paul, Member NITI Aayog, to ensure the availability of 60 per cent beds by private hospitals at lower rates and fix the rate of coronavirus testing and treatment, according to a home ministry statement.
The committee will submit its report by Monday.
In view of shortage of beds for coronavirus infected patients in Delhi, the Modi government has decided to immediately provide 500 railway coaches which will be equipped with all facilities for treatment of COVID-19 patients, he said.
Shah said a joint team of doctors of the union health ministry, Delhi government’s health department, AIIMS and the three Municipal Corporation of Delhi will visit all COVID-designated hospitals in the capital and prepare a report after inspecting the health systems and preparedness.
The development comes two days after the Supreme Court lashed out at the AAP government, describing as “horrific” the state of affairs in Delhi hospitals with bodies being stacked next to COVID-19 patients.
It had also expressed concern over fewer tests being conducted in the national capital and had directed ramping up of testing.
Taking note of the “gravity” of the COVID-19 situation, the Delhi High Court has also directed the AAP government and the Centre to increase the number of beds and ventilators for the coronavirus patients.
The number of total COVID-19 cases in Delhi on June 9 was 31,309 which increased to 38,958 on Saturday.
Similarly, the total number of deaths as on June 9 was 905 which increased to 1,271.
The number of coronavirus cases in Delhi is the third highest in the country after Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu.
“To prevent coronavirus infection in Delhi, testing will be doubled in the next two days and after six days the testing will be increased by three times.
“Also, after a few days, the testing will be started at every polling station in the containment zones,” Shah said in a series of tweets in Hindi.
According to the city government’s recent submission in the Delhi High Court , the combined daily testing capacity of 40 labs — 17 public and 23 private — is 8,600 per day. The number of containment zones in capital has increased from 122 on June 1 to 242.
Shah’s first meeting was with Baijal, Kejriwal, Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia, and senior officials of the Union Home and Health Ministries and the Delhi Disaster Management Authority.
He later met top functionaries of Delhi’s three municipal bodies along with the lieutenant governor and the chief minister.
Terming his meeting with Shah as “extremely productive”, Kejriwal said several key decisions were taken and the Centre and the Delhi government will fight the COVID-19 together in the national capital.
Shah said the main aim of the meetings is to win the fight against coronavirus with mutual coordination.
“We have to turn the country and the national capital corona-free, healthy and prosperous at the earliest under the leadership of the prime minister,” he said.
The home minister, who was directed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday to look into the Delhi COVID-19 situation, said in order to carry out the contact tracing well in Delhi’s containment zones, a comprehensive house-to-house health survey of every person will be done and its report will be submitted within a week.
For proper monitoring, he said, the Aarogya Setu app will be downloaded in every person’s mobile phone.
With the railway coaches provided by the Centre, the number of beds will be increased by 8,000 beds.
Shah said the central government will provide the Delhi government necessary resources like oxygen cylinders, ventilators, pulse oximeters and all other requirements.
The government has decided to release new guidelines for the last rites of those dying of coronavirus, which will reduce the waiting period, he said.
A Home Ministry spokesman said in the evening that following the minister’s orders, the bodies of suspected COVID19 cases in Delhi should be handed over to relatives immediately without waiting for lab confirmation and should be treated with precaution as per the Health Ministry’s guidelines dated March 15.
Shah said the central government will also make available five senior officers to the Delhi government to help fight the coronavirus vigorously.
Hours later, the Union Home Minister ordered transfer of two IAS officers from Andaman and Nicobar Islands and two officers from Arunachal Pradesh to the Delhi government to help fight the COVID-19 pandemic.
He also ordered attachment of two other senior IAS officers from the central government with the city government.
Home Ministry officials said Shah has called a meeting of all political parties of Delhi on Monday to discuss the COVID-19 situation in the national capital.
The Delhi Presidents of Congress, BJP, AAP and BSP have been invited for the meeting.
The Union Health Ministry, the Delhi government, all departments concerned and experts have been instructed to ensure that the decisions taken on Sunday are implemented well till the ground level, Shah said.
After the home minister’s meeting with the mayors of Delhi’s three municipal corporations — North, South and East — and commissioners of the civic bodies, the mayors said they were fully supporting the government in fighting the pandemic.
Anju Kamal Kant, mayor of the East Delhi Municipal Corporation said they have compiled a list of community centres which can be offered for isolation.
She said they have identified nursing homes for converting into COVID treatment facilities and they have been notified.
“It’s a comprehensive task but we are on the job,” she said.
Avtar Singh, mayor of the North Delhi Municipal Corporation, said the cremation centres are under them and the death figures given by them, which are higher than that of Delhi government, were correct.
But, he said, they will support the Delhi government’s efforts.
There has been criticism from different quarters over the handling of COVID-19 cases in the capital, with complaints of non-availability of beds in hospitals for patients and difficulty in getting the tests done in laboratories.
India saw the highest single-day spike of 11,929 novel coronavirus cases in the last 24 hours, taking the number of infections to over 3.20 lakh on Sunday, while the toll crossed the 9,000 mark with 311 more deaths, the Health Ministry said.
Late in the evening, the home ministry issued another statement which said the home minister directed the central government, Delhi government and all three municipal corporations of Delhi to ensure proper implementation of the decisions taken in the meetings.
The home minister also directed the Delhi Police commissioner to ensure all guidelines are enforced strictly.