Covid-19 pandemic has exposed the National Capital Region’s unpreparedness

Flights, trains, buses are operating, so how will sealing borders with Delhi help contain Coronavirus? The Delhi Government on its part continues to claim that the situation is under control, and “there is no need to panic.”

DelhiImage Courtesy:economictimes

According to Delhi’s Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia, the increased number is only because ‘data from other hospitals’ has just come in. He said yesterday 13 people had died of Covid-19, and 69 more deaths which were reported late have also been added to the list. “These deaths are ‘old’ and were reported late to the Delhi government”, he said adding that these patients had died in different hospitals across the city and the additional deaths were only recently reported to the Delhi Government. Hence the number is now at 82, out of which 52 deaths were reported from Safdarjung Hospital itself.

Sisodia maintained that Delhi had a recovery rate of nearly 50 % and most of them recovered while in home quarantine. “If you are asymptomatic, or have a minor cold and cough, you do not need to come to the hospital,” he said that this was according to the Union Government’’s guidelines. “Stay in isolation at home, in an exclusive bed,” he added that the neighbours did not have to worry about contracting Coronavirus. “You do not get corona by touch, only if the droplets enter your mouth via nose, mouth or eyes, if you wash your hands corona will not infect you” he said.

Delhi has recorded around 17,368 positive cases with 398 deaths. “1106 new cases have been reported in the last 24 hours in Delhi,” said the health minister Satyendra Jain adding, “Around 2100 people are admitted in hospital at the moment”. According to the minister the city has around 5000 beds available for Covid patients as needed, this included beds available in both private and government hospitals. “We plan to increase this and want to have double the number of beds than that of patients admitted in hospitals,” said Jain.

Around 28 Covid-19 patients are currently on ventilator support. “There are over 300 ventilators dedicated for Covid-19 patients,” he said. Even last week, social media and whatsapp have circulated messages and stories of people who were allegedly asked to “arrange ventilators/ or ICU beds” for their kin seriously ill due to Coronavirus. The CM had later issued a show cause notice to the hospital that had allegedly done that.

However, Delhi’s rising Covid-19 cases, and an increased number of Coronavirus related deaths being reported from the national Capital, seems to have radiated waves of panic in the surrounding states of Haryana and Uttar Pradesh. Both states have now ‘completely sealed’ its borders with Delhi, even though many of the zones fall under the National Capital Region. The concept of NCR as a socio economic zone, seems to be defunct at the moment, as last evening Haryana Minister Anil Vig announced that the state was sealing its border with Delhi, including interior roads.

Haryana has also recorded an increase in Coronavirus infections in the areas that lie along the Delhi border. “The main reason behind the spike in cases is the entry of people from Delhi into areas of Haryana which share its border with Delhi,” Vig was quoted by NDTV, “In the last one week, Faridabad reported 98 cases, Jhajjar reported six cases, Sonipat 27 and Gurugram 111 cases. Barring those categories for which relaxation has been granted by the high court and the Home Ministry, the inter-state border should be sealed.”  The relaxations are for those engaged in ‘essential services’ as defined under the national lockdown protocol.

These service providers had been allowed to move between the two states, states the news report, only after the intervention of the Delhi High Court. Recently, Haryana had also eased travel for an hour or so each in the morning and evening to ease rush hour traffic congestion that is the hallmark, specially at the Delhi-Gurgaon border. According to news reports, the Haryana government “gave an undertaking assuring that essential service workers including doctors, nurses, police personnel, those working in courts and municipal agencies will be allowed between Delhi and Haryana if they have e-passes.”

The Indian Express has reported that Haryana has recorded the “biggest single-day spike with 123 cases, 92 of these in Gurgaon, Faridabad and Sonipat.”

“The decision to seal all the inner and village roads connecting these districts with Delhi has to be taken because a lot of traffic movement has been noticed on these roads. Thus, the orders to immediately seal all such roads was taken and directions have been issued to the Additional Chief Secretary (Home). The orders issued by Delhi High Court regarding movement between these districts and Delhi will be duly followed and relaxations are being given for essential services movement,” Haryana’s Home Minister Anil Vij was quoted in the IE.

The worst affected are Gurgaon and Faridabad, which also have a large number of people commuting to and from Delhi. The other highly affected Haryana districts are Sonipat and Jhajjar.

The border sealing once again impacted the common traveler the most. Groups of workers staged a spontaneous protest at the Delhi-Gurgaon border. As reported by NDTV those on foot, or on bicycles were not allowed to cross the border while cars were allowed to pass.

“There is no limit to the stupidity of India’s politicians Delhi-Gurgaon Border Shut, Hundreds Of Pedestrians Protest, Traffic Chaos,” said journalist Vir Sanghvi

“Absolutely. And this is a BJP run state with a chosen Modi Bhakt incharge. Why can’t there be coordinated action in the NCR area? In US NY Coumo had tri-states in synch,” added former Ambassador K C Singh.

According to an analysis by NDTV: “Deaths linked to coronavirus are set to surge in Delhi as the Safdarjung Hospital reported 99 more deaths.” The increased number of deaths is of patients who were suffering from comorbidities including diabetes, hypertension, heart ailments and kidney diseases and people having these health conditions are vulnerable to the virus. The under-reporting of deaths was exposed after cremation grounds sent a list of 426 coronavirus positive deaths to the state government.

Delhi’s border with Uttar Pradesh, including Gautam Buddha Nagar (Noida), annd Ghaziabad had already been sealed last weekend. Of course, flights, trains, buses are operating to and from Delhi, so how will sealing its borders help contain Coronavirus? The officials have yet to answer this basic question and share what they are doing to combat the rise of cases next week if the lockdown officially ends. Delhi Government on its part continues to claim that the situation is under control, and “there is no need to panic.”



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