Chhatarpur Covid-19 facility reopens to desperate appeals
Several Covid-19 patients and their relatives were seen outside the Covid care facility in south Delhi’s Chhatarpur — which was reopened on Monday with 150 oxygen beds — seeking on-site admissions and complaining that government helplines were not responding to their distress calls.
The ongoing Covid-19 surge in the city has left hospitals overburdened, and people have been frantically searching for beds with oxygen support. The Chhatarpur centre, which, according to a government order, will admit Covid-19 patients on being referred by a district surveillance officer (DSO), witnessed some heated arguments on Monday when police deployed there denied access to the patients seeking on-site admissions.
The facility was launched on Monday morning. In a video press briefing, Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal said: “I reviewed arrangements in the Radha Soami Satsang Beas Covid facility today. The centre is functional since 10 am. Now it has 150 oxygen beds. In the next two days, it will be increased to 500 oxygen beds. In another four days after that, it will have 2,000 beds and, eventually, 5,000 beds. The centre will soon have 200 ICU beds as well.”
The oxygen beds, doctors, medical staff and paramedics are arranged by the Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP), and the Delhi government is entrusted with bearing the cost of boarding and lodging of health care staff, and managing admissions.
Within hours of the centre reopening , more than 70 people gathered outside it and stood near the police barricades through which only ambulances were allowed in. Some people had come with their test reports and other medical documents.
A senior revenue department official said that for admission to the centre, people who test positive for Covid-19 can call on helpline numbers, and each request will be forwarded to the DSOs for reference.
Some patients and their relatives who were denied entry were seen having heated arguments with police.
“The oxygen level has dropped to 87. The patient needs a bed. We are here since morning and dialling helplines for more than two hours now. The attempts have been futile. We need help,” said Anoop Kumar Yadav, who along with is brother-in-law Pradeep Yadav, a Covid-19 patient, was present outside the centre.
Dipankar Tarafdar, a Covid-19 patient who was at the centre with his 84-year-old father, also a Covid-19 patient with severe symptoms, said: “We waited there for two hours and then realised there was no point. My father’s oxygen level dropped to 60. We had to start looking out for an ICU bed now. We kept calling all the helpline numbers, pleading before the staff at the centre, nothing worked.”
A senior Delhi Police officer, who did not wish to be identified, said: “Initially there was some confusion and chaos as patients needed approval from the concerned agency for getting access to the facility. The issue was later resolved. There is adequate police deployment at the centre and things are under control.”
Spokespersons of the Delhi government and the Union home ministry did not respond to requests for comment.