UT administrator VP Singh Badnore addressing the media in Chandigarh on Tuesday. (Keshav Singh/HT)
UT administrator VP Singh Badnore addressing the media in Chandigarh on Tuesday. (Keshav Singh/HT)

Badnore blames influx of outsiders for second wave in Chandigarh

Points to ‘three major activities’ — assembly sessions of Punjab and Haryana, resumption of physical hearings at high court, and opening of OPDs
By HT Correspondent, Chandigarh
PUBLISHED ON APR 28, 2021 12:57 AM IST

UT administrator VP Singh Badnore on Tuesday blamed the influx of outsiders for the Covid-19 second wave in the city.

Addressing the media, in only his second such interaction since the outbreak last March, Badnore said, “Three major activities have taken place in Chandigarh, which could have contributed to the second wave in the city. The city hosts the legislative assemblies of Punjab and Haryana. When house sessions take place, a large number of outsiders come to the city, which cannot be avoided as the city is the capital of both the states.”

Badnore further said that a major influx of outsiders in the city was also witnessed when physical hearing of cases had restarted in the Punjab and Haryana high court. During the first wave last year, only virtual hearing of cases was being done.

“Similarly, when we opened the OPD in PGIMER, a large number of outsiders had started to pour in,” he said.

The UT administration had called a meeting of mediapersons for seeking their suggestions on Covid-19 management in the city.

When asked about opening of the OPDs in Chandigarh hospitals, Badnore said, “We have to create a balance between physical and virtual examinations of patients. There is no system for testing for Covid before the OPD. All of them also cannot be directed to get tested before they come to the OPD.”

‘50% ICU beds occupied by patients from other states’

Badnore said that majority of the beds have been occupied by people from outside Chandigarh and it has been challenging for the administration to ramp up the medical facilities.

“No doubt to keep the number of fatalities low, we need the health facilities to be active to deal with severe cases. However, when it comes to ICU beds, less than 50% are occupied by patients from Chandigarh, while others are occupied by people from as far as Ladakh and J&K. The issue is that we cannot refuse them,” said the administrator. Health officials said the situation is similar in the case of oxygen beds as well.

Government hospitals in Chandigarh have been able to mobilise only 126 ICU beds with ventilators, with a few diverted from non-Covid wards. On Tuesday evening, only 14% (18) ICU beds were available, with nine at GMCH-32, eight at PGIMER, one at GMSH-16 and none at the hospital in Sector 48. Meanwhile, the occupancy of 666 oxygen beds stood at 78%.

Army to set up 100-bed facility at PU hostel within a week

In order to strengthen the health infrastructure, the administrator said that the Indian Army will be establishing a 100-bed hospital for Covid-19 patients at the Panjab University International Hostel.

Later, Col Jasdeep Sandhu, director, civil military affairs, Western Command, said that the necessary liaison has been established with the Chandigarh administration and the 100-bed hospital will be established by moving a field hospital from Himachal Pradesh.

“Our medical teams are visiting the selected place on Wednesday, and the hospital will be functional in five to six days,” he said.

The Western Command has already agreed to set up a 100-bed Covid hospital in the neighbouring Mohali district as well.

Badnore also chairs an all-party meet

Earlier in the day, the administrator chaired an all-party meeting at the UT Guest House to seek suggestions from political parties on Covid management strategy.

In the meeting, Congress opposed the imposition of lockdown in the city. Congress councilor and leader of opposition in the MC, Devinder Singh Babla, said, “The administration is confused as they put a lockdown for a day and then suddenly the next day, they discontinued it. The health department is not ensuring that necessary drugs are being made available to the patients. Price of the drugs/medicines should be regulated and availability be checked.”

The Aam Aadmi Party, on the other hand, backed the lockdown only if the experts advised in its favour. They also suggested fully exploiting the health infrastructure lying in disuse in several locations in the city like Palsora.

Former city MP and senior BJP leader Satya Pal Jain advised the administration of a health war room, which should have a helpline for oxygen and medicine availability and one for the patients needing help.

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