Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal made surprise visits to city hospitals on Tuesday to take stock of the steps taken for the treatment of dengue patients, appealing to people not to panic in the wake of the national capital's 'worst outbreak in five years'.
"The government is making arrangements in hospitals by adding extra beds and space," Kejriwal told mediapersons.
On September 8, seven-year-old Avinash Rout had died due to the vector-borne disease after allegedly being turned away by five hospitals which had driven his parents to suicide. Kejriwal's surprise visit to the hospitals, including Guru Teg Bahadur hospital and Dr Hedgewar Aarogya Sansthan in Karkardooma, came in the backdrop of another boy succumbing to dengue and his family alleging negligence by hospitals in the city.
The CM said strict action will be taken against hospitals which turn away patients citing excuses. Profit should not supersede humanity, he added.
Odisha chief minister Naveen Patnaik has urged Kejriwal to take action against the health facilities that allegedly did not admit a Rout, a boy from Odisha, and help his family. The Centre too asked the Delhi government to take strict action against hospitals refusing dengue patients and directed it to rein in private facilities overcharging them.
Referring to Rout's death, Kejriwal said, "It is very heartbreaking.. I feel very sad after hearing such incidents."
"We are planning to come out with a law so that hospitals refusing treatment to an emergency patient can be penalised. In the next couple of days, we will call a special session of the legislative assembly to bring in the law," Kejriwal said.
Data released by the three civic bodies - North Delhi Municipal Corporation, South Delhi Municipal Corporation and East Delhi Municipal Corporation -- said on Monday that till September 12, the number of deaths due to dengue was five and total dengue cases have gone up to 1,872.
"Hospitals which refuse treatment will not be spared," Kejriwal reiterated. "In the mad race to earn profit, one should not become blind. If the hospitals would have treated him, would it have made the turnover of hospitals suffer?"
He added the government was exploring the idea of taking over private hospitals for a temporary period during an exigency.
For his part, Union health minister JP Nadda said: "I held a meeting with the Delhi health minister and asked him to take strict action against hospitals refusing dengue patients. They have been asked to submit a report on the actions taken. We have also assured that whatever support they need will be given."
The Union health ministry noted that the cases detected in Delhi and deaths reported due to dengue have gone on the "higher" side compared to the last year.
"I have asked Delhi government to see that private hospitals do not charge unwarrantedly and that they should take reasonable fees from the patients," Nadda said, after chairing a high level meeting with officials of RML, Safdarjung and Lady Hardinge hospitals.
Read:Delhi battles severe dengue outbreak, 'worst yet to come'