More than a week after Delhi Government's second deadline expired on September 15, private hospitals are yet to open doors to influenza A H1N1 patients.
Delhi reported 2,079 cases — 80 new cases — and 9 deaths till Wednesday evening.
While most of the hospitals claimed to be ready and waiting for the state health department's approval, State Health Minister Kiran Walia said they were not.
“Our experts are going on a round of private hospitals virtually every day, and there are minor things that are hampering the approval process like system of ventilation,” said Walia. “These hospitals aren’t used to the concept of isolation and mostly work in a centralised system. We may delay it by a few days but absolute compliance is a must. We can’t cut corners and risk lives of people,” she said.
“Our set-up is ready and we have conveyed this to the health department. Now, we are waiting for their inspection,” said B.K. Rao, chairman of Sir Ganga Ram Hospital. “Our infrastructure is in place, but we are awaiting formal approval from the government,” said the Moolchand Medcity spokesperson.
Similar reactions were given by Indraprastha Apollo Hospital, which said the hospital was waiting for the second inspection before starting the facility for swine flu patients.
On August 12, Principal Secretary (health) J.P. Singh issued a circular directing "all 200-bed non-government medical institutions/hospitals to set up a 10-bed isolation treatment facility with 15 days".
The direction was issued under section 2 of the Epidemic Disease Act, 1897, which empowers the state government to take special measures and prescribe regulations in case of a dangerous epidemic disease. “The step was taken as a precautionary measure in case the disease takes epidemic shape,” said Singh.
The hospitals had asked for more time and the state government extended the deadline by 15 days. But none of the wards were functional.
Delhi has 13 such hospitals and only Moolchand, Ganga Ram, Batra and Apollo have made necessary arrangements.