Sisodia urges Baijal to withdraw order ending home isolation

"Why should one go to a quarantine centre for checkup," the deputy chief minister asked the lieutenant governor


As Delhi now touches new peaks of rising Covid-19 cases each day, so does the confusion on new protocols and orders, followed by roll backs being issued regularly. On Tuesday June 23, Delhi’s  Deputy CM Manish Sisodia announced that he is writing to Lt Governor Anil Baijal to withdraw his latest order that made it mandatory for those who test positive for Covid-19 to go to a government-run quarantine centre for ‘clinical assessment’.

“Why should one go to a quarantine centre for checkup? Has he made any mistake? At a time when the government should help him, we are giving him punishment of standing in long queues,” said Sisodia via an online press conference.

This new order said Deputy CM Manish Sisodia has increased the workload on an already taxed system. He said it also put additional pressure on the city’s ambulance system which is needed to prioritise taking unwell patients to hospital, but now will also be needed to take asymptomatic people to the centers for assessment. Sisodia has asked the Lt Governor to convene a meeting of the State Disaster Management Authority (SDMA) and re-implement the Delhi Government’s original plans of sending medical teams home to assess conditions of patients. 

“I have written a letter to LG Sahab urging to call a meeting of SDMA immediately to implement the old system of sending ‘medical teams at home’ instead of this system.

The Lt Governor’s order, said Sisodia, also adds a great deal of stress on the citizen, who will now have to go and stand in crowded lines for hours to get tested. The person, even if asymptomatic, can also put others at risk, reminded Sisodia.  “People are facing problems. What wrong have they done? They are scared of going to the centres and fear getting sicker, they are tired. But  if they do not go to these centres, they get calls from police and district administration,” he said.

So far, home isolation has been working well, especially for asymptomatic patients. Atishi, a senior leader of the Aam Aadmi Party, and the party spokesman Akshay Mhatre, both tested positive for Covid-19 and have been under home isolation. They wrote an opinion piece in The Hindustan Times to share their personal experience with home isolation and said it benefited their health and well-being. Once they tested positive the two were contacted in their respective residences by a “government telemedicine service that offered medical advice.” They were also visited by an ASHA health worker who confirmed they had mild symptoms and then she “pasted a sticker next to our main doors, giving neighbours fair warning.” 

They write that while under home isolation their health was monitored daily via the state government’s tele-monitoring service. “An emergency phone number was also given to us to be called if our symptoms were to escalate. An ambulance would take us to a hospital if we were to report any escalation in symptoms,” they wrote. Things were smooth till the Lt Governor’s order ending home isolation, which was then rolled back soon enough. 

“One of the lessons of governance the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) has learnt is — do not fix something that is not broken.The thought of being dragged into a railway coach parked at the Anand Vihar station upon testing positive would have driven away people from voluntarily coming forward to test themselves. And if asymptomatic and mildly symptomatic patients refuse testing and carry on with their lives, they would have ended up infecting others,” wrote the AAP leaders.

A point that Sisodia also put in his official statement, “After Lt Governor ordered that every #COVID positive patient is required to visit a quarantine centre for clinical assessment, a lot of pressure is being built on people. So, I have written a letter to LG requesting him to withdraw this order. The former system was better, wherein govt’s team used to visit patients’ residence for clinical assessment.”

According to the opinion written by Atishi, “Data on Delhi’s home isolation programme shows why it is highly recommended around the world. Only 6% of all positive patients under home isolation have been required to be shifted to a hospital or quarantine facility during their home isolation period. Of more than 27,000 patients who have been under home isolation thus far, only 1,618 reported a deterioration in their symptoms and had to be shifted to hospitals.”

Earlier the Delhi  government had announced that testing for Covid-19 had been tripled to around 18,000 tests each day. It was also announced that the Delhi government will loan Pulse Oximeters to those under home isolation to keep a check on the oxygen levels in their body. 

Delhi’s Covid-19 situation is now being monitored by Union Home Minister Amit Shah who has chaired a number of meetings in the past few days. As reported across the media, these meetings have been attended by Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal, deputy CM Manish Sisodia, lieutenant governor Anil Baijal, Union health minister Harsh Vardhan and other senior officials to discuss the action plan. A committee of experts being consulted includes: AIIMS director Dr Randeep Guleria, Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) director general Dr Balram Bhargava and Niti Aayog member Dr VK Paul. 

According to an HT report apart from protocols and strategies such as  better containment of areas, a wider range of contact tracing, rapid antibody testing, the Delhi Police has also empowered to “enforce social distancing norms,” and impose fines on those people violating them or not wearing face masks.

The Delhi government has to put in place a revised  strategy in place by June 26. The Union govt committee said that there should be “a 100% survey of all containment zones by June 30, and by July 6, there should be an extensive survey of the entire Capital.” The serological survey will be conducted between June 27 and July 10.

According to official data Delhi had recorded more than  62,655 positive cases with 2,909 added in a single day on June 22. Around 23,820 cases remain active, the city has also recorded around 2,233 deaths at last count.

Delhi’s health minister Satyendra Jain remains under treatment for Covid-19 at a private hospital. 


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