Desire for scoring political brownie points greater than need to control Covid-19 in Delhi?

BJP and AAP busy claiming credit for sundry protocols and rollbacks even as national capital overtakes Mumbai as coronavirus capital of India


A passive-aggressive war of words continues to play out in full public view between the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led Union Government’s Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), and the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP)-led Delhi Government. The generals leading from the front are Home Minister Amit Shah and Delhi’s Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia, both are trusted lieutenants of their bosses. The political battle of Covid-19 is heating up, as the number of infections continue to rise in the city-state.

Caught in the crosshairs is the citizen of Delhi who wakes up confused each day with notifications, and roll back of earlier notifications, and grand announcements of massive numbers of beds being arranged in hospitals, and additional beds being set up in banquet halls, hotels and religious centres. The last time the Centre and state had locked horns was over the decision to reserve Delhi hospitals for the treatment of certified Delhi residents. This unleashed a massive controversy and was then overruled by Delhi’s Lieutenant Governor Anil Baijal. The Lt Gov had ordered that the authorities must make sure no one is denied medical treatment in the National Capital, based on their residency status, and that the testing norms be as earlier. 

Now there are new Covid-19 policy decisions that become contentious, but if they work, they become ‘wins’ both parties want to claim. The top 3 this week are: 

1: Home Isolation of Covid-19 patients 

The latest argument is about who gets the final word on ‘home isolation,’ a key plan of action that may even find its way into the next election manifesto for AAP, is the notification  on the status of allowing ‘home isolation’ and treatment at home of mild and moderate Covid-19 cases. AAP said it set the policy in place, but it was overruled by the Lt governor Anil Baijal. Then Dy CM Sisodia once again had to intervene and urge Baijal to withdraw order ending home isolation.

The Centre withdrew the order making it compulsory for all those suspected of having Covid-19 to visit a government facility for assessment. The announcement was made by Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia on Thursday June 26. 

The Home Ministry quickly clarified that this decision on home-isolation was taken on June 21, by Union Home Minister Amit Shah, at a meeting that was even attended by Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal. It posted: “Today’s SDMA decision on home isolation of COVID-19 positive patients in Delhi is a reaffirmation of the decision taken at the meeting held by Union Home Minister Shri @AmitShah on 21st June and communicated to Delhi Govt on 22.06.20.” 



Delhi’s Dy CM Sisodia had of course pointed out that the AAP “system” will again be followed in Delhi. A Delhi government medical team will visit patients at home and assess availability of a separate room and toilet, severity of symptoms and comorbidities. Then they decide on referting such patients to a quarantine centre or continue with home isolation. He had said the Lt Gov’s ‘five-day mandatory institutional quarantine’ decision would have done more harm and would have stressed the healthcare system and the patients.


2: Directives on serological survey

The Union Government has now announced a massive testing plan that will be launched on Saturday June 27. 

The Ministry of Home Affairs has  stated that Home Minister Amit Shah has issued directives on the large scale survey. “As per the directives of HM @AmitShah, discussion was done on the serological survey in Delhi, which will be carried out jointly by NCDC and Delhi Government. Survey will begin from June 27, training of all the concerned survey teams was completed yesterday.”

It also stated that the Aarogya Setu & Itihaas apps will be used together “As strong predictive tools for future detection of COVID outbreaks in population clusters” and that the district teams of the Delhi Govt had already been trained by National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC).



The Delhi government has also announced that it has tripled testing in the city, especially in the various containment zones.  The containment zones themselves will be redefined soon. The door-to-door health survey is also expected to be done by June 30. 


3: Focus on LNJP Hospital as a case study

On June 25, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal launched a video-call facility at the Lok Nayak Jai Prakash (LNJP) hospital to enable those undergoing treatment for Covid-19 at the Delhi-govt hospital. The LNJP is one of the most prominent Covid-19 hospitals since its designation on March 17. Union Home Minister Amit Shah had also made a well publicised and met with doctors there on June 16, and CM Kejriwal launched most of his current health schemes there. On June 25, he shared clips of his video conferences with patients undergoing treatment at the hospital, where he says the facilities are top notch. This video conference will now allow patients to talk to their families.  “Tablets have been installed in every ward of the hospital. The family members can visit the hospital and talk to the patient through video conferencing,” he said.

On June 26 CM Kejriwal also said that a number of beds are still available at LNJP, and more beds are being added as a banquet hall near the hospital has been converted to a Covid care facility. He also announced that more beds will soon be added to the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) at LNJP and other Delhi-govt sun hospitals. “We are not sitting idle with our hands folded, we are getting ready for tomorrow,” he said in a video Press Conference. Delhi on Thursday evening recorded  3,390 new Covid-19 cases, taking the total number of infections to a massive 73,780. Over 26,586 are active cases and 64 deaths were reported in a day. 



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