Kejriwal, Sisodia ask Centre to roll back rule mandating visit to Covid centre
Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal asked the Centre to withdraw an order mandating every individual diagnosed Covid positive through a swab test to be taken to a Covid care centre (CCC) for clinical assessment of symptoms, equating it with “detention”.Updated: Jun 25, 2020, 01:58 IST
Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal on Wednesday asked the Centre to withdraw an order mandating every individual diagnosed Covid positive through a swab test to be taken to a Covid care centre (CCC) for clinical assessment of symptoms, equating it with “detention”, even as deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia wrote to Union home minister Amit Shah to roll back the directive which he said was putting a burden on the administrative machinery fighting the pandemic.
“I have received many requests to reverse the home isolation-related order, especially from people with mild symptoms or no symptoms, because it is not feasible. If the police and district administration arrive as somebody’s residence and takes that person to a Covid centre, it is equivalent to 15 days’ detention,” Kejriwal said.
The new health assessments protocol formalised by the administration on Monday says every new Covid-19 patient must visit a government facility, a process that requires special ambulances and increased deployment of medical staff, and raises the risk of infection among anyone who is involved in the exercise.
“Suppose, someone’s 80-year-old mother gets Covid-infected, and she is asymptomatic or has mild symptoms, how can she be taken to a quarantine centre and why? At home, she will be taken care of better by her children. Those who can be treated at home should be isolated at home and those who need medical attention can be taken to hospital. Why force everyone into a Covid centre. Such an order is not correct.” the CM said after inaugurating a 100-bed covid health centre set up at a banquet hall attached to Lok Nayak Hospital in central Delhi.
Kejriwal said, “Why should a person with high fever be forced to stand in a queue for assessment of Covid symptoms when that can be done at home? The Delhi government and central government are working in cooperation with each other. I would like to request the Centre to roll back the order.”
Earlier in the day, Sisodia urged Shah to roll back the order that has sparked a row. “It’s not a matter of the Amit Shah model versus Arvind Kejriwal model of fighting Covid-19. It’s about ensuring minimum inconvenience to the public and also that the administrative machinery fighting the pandemic is not overburdened,” Sisodia said at a briefing via a video conference, a day after the Delhi government said in a letter to the L-G that the old system of assessing Covid-19 patients at their residence to determine if they are fit for home isolation must be brought back.
Also, on Wednesday, the Delhi Disaster Management Authority (DDMA) – chaired by lieutenant-govenor (L-G) Anil Baijal – wrote to the six-member expert committee set up by the L-G earlier this month, seeking help on the matter and directed them to submit a proposed standard operating procedure (SOP) by Thursday.
The letter, which HT has seen, said: “The subject of the letter (SOP for management of patients who have tested covid positive) is self-explanatory for consideration by the advisory group… I am directed to request you to kindly consider the issues raised in the letter (attached) of the deputy chief minister urgently and submit a proposed SOP in this regard in 24 hours.”
The six-member advisory group is led by Dr Balram Bhargava, director general of Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR). A senior official in the DDMA said, “These are technical things and demand a scientific approach. So, the DDMA has written to the expert committee seeking guidance.”
Sisodia, who has been holding the additional charge of the health portfolio after health minister Satyendra Jain tested Covid-19 positive and is undergoing treatment, said the rule to visit a CCC was causing chaos.
“Delhi is reporting over 3,000 Covid-19 positive cases daily. We have written to the L-G, explaining how his directive is causing chaos. We have urged him to roll back his decision. The district authorities are in the process of arranging buses to adhere to the order and they are overburdened. We have requested the L-G to preside over a meeting of the state disaster management authority at the earliest. However, we have not got any response yet,” Sisodia said.
Delhi on Wednesday reported 3,788 new cases, taking the overall count to 70,390. The health bulletin reported 64 deaths, pushing the count to 2,365.
The Delhi government was earlier conducting a similar assessment by sending health officials to residences of Covid-19 patients.
But last Friday, Baijal scrapped the home isolation practice and issued a controversial order making a five-day institutional quarantine mandatory for all patients, including those with mild symptoms who were eligible for home quarantine. The order was, however, reversed the following day after furore.
The rollback of Friday’s order, however, came with the condition that all patients should be taken to CCCs for a clinical diagnosis.
The official notification issued on Monday by the director-general of health services (DGHS), Delhi, specified that all those who tested positive through the RT-PCR test should be taken to CCCs for a clinical diagnosis of their symptoms. Those who tested positive through rapid diagnostic tests (RDTs) are to be assessed in the clinics.
The order said a medical officer is empowered to take a call on whether a Covid-19 patient should be sent to a hospital or a Covid-19 Health Centre (CHC) or can undergo self-isolation at home.
A separate team will visit the residence of a Covid-19 patient to check if facilities required for self-isolation, such as a room with a separate toilet, etc, were available so that others in the family do not get infected, the order said.
Jugal Kishore, head, community medicine department, Safdarjung Hospital, said: “If many Covid-19 patients visit CCCs, it will create multiple problems. It increases the exposure risk for healthcare workers; attendants, who accompany Covid-19 patients in ambulances; and also ambulance drivers, among others. Besides, a Covid-19 positive case can multiply to three in no time. In this context, it’s a logistically better option to send an equipped team to a Covid-19 patient’s residence.”
The Bharatiya Janata Party criticised the Delhi government for the requests sent to the Union mister and L-G. “The situation in Delhi came under control only after the central government intervened. The Aam Aadmi Party government is politicising the issue of Covid patients being sent to care centres for clinical assessment because it exposes their failure on the healthcare infrastructure front,” said BJP’s Delhi unit president Adesh Gupta.