Delhi Government Withdraws Order To Convert Nursing Homes Into COVID-19 Centres

The decision was widely seen as part of frantic efforts by the Delhi government to ensure the availability of close to 80,000 beds


NEW DELHI| Delhi government has withdrawn its order to convert private nursing homes in the capital with 10 to 49 beds into COVID-19 nursing homes within a day of its release. On Sunday morning the move announced was supposed to add 5,000 beds to Delhi’s total capacity for treatment of coronavirus patients.

The decision was widely seen as part of frantic efforts by the Delhi government to ensure the availability of close to 80,000 beds dedicated to COVID-19 patient’s treatment by the end of July, when the total number of cases is expected to rise to 5.5 lakh by one estimate, overwhelming the city’s health infrastructure if advance preparations are not made.

The order read as, “In order to avoid intermingling of COVID and non-COVID patients in small & medium multi-speciality nursing homes (10 bedded to 49 bedded) and also to augment the bed capacity for Covid-19 patients, all nursing homes in NCT of Delhi having bed strength of 10 beds or more up to 49 beds are declared as COVID nursing homes.” It had, however, left standalone facilities like eye centres, dialysis centres, maternity homes from its purview.

The Delhi government’s move this morning was also seen in the context of criticism that the city’s health infrastructure was cracking under pressure and over the highlighted cases of undignified handling of bodies, which even invited the Supreme Court’s ire.

Another government estimate based on projections using mathematical models has predicted coronavirus cases in the capital’s rise to 100,000 cases by June end, which would necessitate the availability of at least 15,000 hospital beds for treatment of moderate and severe cases.

In another important and related development, the Union ministry of health directed hospitals in the city to tweak the protocol and immediately hand over the bodies of suspected COVID-19 fatalities to their relatives without waiting for lab confirmation of their COVID-19 status.

The order said, “In compliance with orders of Union Home Minister Amit Shah, Union Health Ministry directs that bodies of suspected Covid-19 cases in Delhi be handed over to relatives immediately without waiting for lab confirmation.”

Several hospitals had blamed the need to keep bodies till confirmation of their lab reports as one major reason for the difficulty in managing the bodies which were allegedly found piling up in some hospitals as per media reports cited in the court.

The ministry has also set up three teams of four doctors each from AIIMS Delhi, directorate general of health services, Union health ministry and Delhi government to inspect major dedicated COVID-19 facilities proposed in Delhi and make recommendations for improvement.

Union home minister Amit Shah had also announced a comprehensive health survey of every person in Delhi containment zones to check the spread of coronavirus apart from the ambitious plan to treble testing within six days.

Shah also said that a committee would be set up to allocate 60 per cent beds in private hospitals at a lower rate for coronavirus patients.

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