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Delhi High Court raps AAP govt on steps taken to manage COVID-19 situation

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New Delhi: The Delhi High Court on Thursday (November 19) rapped the AAP government, asking it if it could explain to those who had lost their near and dear ones to COVID-19 in the last 18 days why the administration did not take steps when cases were spiralling in the city. The court also asked the government to look at the situation with a “magnifying glass”.

During a hearing, the High Court said the rate at which the number of COVID-19 positive cases was rising, the AAP government should have been alive to the fact that testing through Rapid Antigen (RAT) method was not serving the purpose and the answer lay in increasing RTPCR tests.

The High Court noted that imposition of fines, for violating COVID-19 norms like social distancing and wearing masks, was proportionately small in areas where the number of coronavirus cases are on the rise.

The Delhi government, however, announced several measures including a steep Rs 2,000 fine for not wearing masks, reservation of 80 per cent ICU beds in private hospitals, doubling testing centres in every district and postponement of non-critical surgeries at health facilities, amid rising number of coronavirus cases in the national capital.

Private hospitals have also been directed to increase the percentage of non-ICU COVID-19 beds from 50 per cent to 60 per cent. The government will increase the number of RT-PCR test to 27,000 a day in the national capital and MBBS students and interns will be engaged to tackle the COVID-19 situation.

Addressing an online media briefing, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said the fine for not wearing masks has been raised from Rs 500 to Rs 2,000. The hard line by the AAP government comes days after Kejriwal repeatedly appealed to Delhiites to wear masks amid a surge in coronavirus cases.

He also announced the slew of measures after meeting Lt Governor Anil Baijal and apprising him about the decisions taken by the Aam Aadmi Party government. He also appealed to political, social and religious organisations to distribute masks among people saying masks very much reduce the chances of coronavirus infection.

Arrangements are being made for over 1,400 ICU beds, including 663 in Delhi government hospitals and 750 at a central government facility, Kejriwal said, adding around 7,500 normal and 446 ICU beds are currently available for COVID-19 patients in Delhi.

Authorities in the city have allowed all coronavirus facilities of the government here to engage MBBS students in fourth and fifth years, interns and others to assist doctors on duty at a fixed honorarium.

Meanwhile, the number of available ICU beds equipped with ventilators is shrinking fast at several hospitals here, with zero vacancy at nearly 60 facilities.

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According to the online Corona dashboard of the Delhi government at 12:30 pm on Thursday, only 131 COVID-19 ICU beds were available out of 1,362 such beds at various facilities.

There was no vacancy at Rajiv Gandhi Super Speciality Hospital (RGSSH), Max hospital’s facilities at Saket, Patparganj and Shalimar Bagh, Batra hospital, Fortis hospital’s facilities at Shalimar Bagh and Vasant Kunj and Fortis Escorts Heart Institute, and Venkateshwara Hospital in Dwarka, among others, as per the data.

Earlier on Wednesday, the Centre said that the Railways will be providing coaches with 800 beds. The Delhi Disaster Management Authority on Wednesday reverted to the earlier cap of 50 guests at marriage functions instead of 200 allowed through its October 31 order. 

(With Agency Inputs)

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