Delhi govt forms second Covid-19 advisory body
The committee is headed by Dr Mahesh Verma who is the vice-chancellor of Guru Gobind Singh Indraprastha University and former director of Maulana Azad Institute of Dental Sciences.Updated: Jun 04, 2020 05:47 IST
The Delhi government has constituted a second five-member expert committee to evaluate its preparedness to handle an increase in Covid-19 cases, and suggest measures to augment health infrastructure in the city.
The committee is headed by Dr Mahesh Verma who is the vice-chancellor of Guru Gobind Singh Indraprastha University and former director of Maulana Azad Institute of Dental Sciences.
The panel includes Dr Sunil Kumar, medical director of Guru Teg Bahadur hospital, Dr Arun Gupta, president of the Delhi Medical Council, Dr RK Gupta, former president of the Delhi Medical Association, and Dr Sandeep Budhiraja, group medical director of Max hospital.
A senior government official confirmed that the first committee, formed on March 27 and headed by Dr SK Sarin, director of the Institute of Liver and Biliary Sciences, continues to function. The two panels will execute separate mandates, the official said.
The June 2 order, signed by special health secretary SM Ali, constituting the second committee reads that the panel has to submit a report of its recommendations by Saturday (June 6).
“We received the orders on Wednesday itself, and the committee has been called to meet on Thursday,” said Dr Arun Gupta.
The formation of the new panel comes at a crucial time when the Delhi government is deliberating if health services in the city should be limited to its residents, and if the city’s borders should remain shut — an issue the committee will also consider.
Chief minister Arvind Kejriwal on Monday asked residents of the Capital to weigh in on these matters, and the government will decide on the course of action by next week.
In the meantime, Delhi’s borders with Haryana and Uttar Pradesh remain shut.
“The moment we open the borders, people from across the country will come to Delhi for treatment. There are about 9,500 beds for the treatment of Covid-19 patients in Delhi; currently, there are only 2,300 patients. The beds will fill up in just two days if patients from across the country come for treatment to Delhi. Should we open the borders? Some say, borders should be opened but the hospitals services should be reserved for those living in Delhi till Covid-19 pandemic,” Kejriwal had said in a press briefing on Monday.
“We have been given the mandate to evaluate the available health infrastructure, and suggest what the government should do next. This will include the question of whether or not to restrict Delhi hospitals services to the city’s residents. It is not ethical to deny health services to anyone when beds are vacant. But when they are full and it comes to choosing who gets a bed, how do we decide? The committee’s members will look at what can be done,” said Dr Mahesh Verma.
Delhi has been recording around 1,000 cases of Covid-19 everyday for almost a week now. This is the third scenario for which preparedness measures had been suggested by a committee the government had constituted earlier.
The Delhi government is in the process of ramping up its bed capacity to around 9,800 by mid-June as per the recommendations of the first committee.
The previous committee had been set up in March-end and asked the government to prepare for three scenarios —100 cases a day, 500 cases a day, and 1,000 cases a day.
“Delhi can expect to start recording around 2,000 cases a day by next week,” said an expert following the trends, on condition of anonymity.