Explain reason behind reserving 80% ICU beds for Covid-19 patients: HC to Delhi govt
The Delhi high court on Thursday asked the state government as to what exercise it has carried out in reserving 80% Intensive Care Unit (ICU) beds in 33 private hospitals, while stating that a September 12 notification to that effect is “outdated” and that “the situation on the ground is much more critical”.
“What is the rationale behind selecting these 33 hospitals? What is the density exercise that you have conducted? Is it a random selection? What is the density exposure and how many of the hospitals have been reserved in the Central district of the city with the fourth sero survey report showing increase in the cases? How have the beds been divided?,” a bench of Justice Hima Kohli and Justice Subramonium Prasad sought to know from additional solicitor general (ASG) Sanjay Jain, who represented the Delhi government.
The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government issued an order on September 12 asking 33 private hospitals in the city to reserve 80% ICU beds for Covid-19 patients. This order was stayed by the HC on September 22 on a petition by the Association of Healthcare Providers. Later, on October 9, a division bench of the court took up an appeal by the Delhi government, refusing to vacate the stay while adjourning the matter to November 27. The AAP government approached the apex court against these two orders of September 22 and October 9. The Supreme Court has refused to interfere with the HC order staying the AAP government’s instruction to private hospitals in the city to reserve beds.
ASG Jain, along with additional standing counsel Sanjoy Ghose, submitted they agree that the situation was different in September and one could have said that the government’s notification was “premature” then. But now the situation warrants more ICU beds with the increasing number of cases in the city, they argued.
“Empower me (Delhi government) today to address the dynamic situation…We will take steps to complete the deficiency,” ASG Jain submitted.
On Wednesday, the government informed the high court that around one in four of the 15,000 people tested in the latest serological survey in the capital showed prevalence of antibodies against Sars-Cov-2, indicating that the proportion of people with antibodies has remained largely unchanged from the previous round of the exercise.
On a specific query from the court on Thursday, ASG Jain said 2,000 beds are currently functional in the Radha Soami Beas Satsang out of the 10,000 beds there because people are not willing to go there.
The court sought to know as to which of the areas are most affected in the national capital and whether economically weaker patients are being diverted to the Radha Soami Beas Satsang facility from government hospitals due to the non-availability of beds.
Radha Soami Beas Satsang is a Covid Care Centre for mild and asymptomatic patients operated by the Delhi government and the Indo-Tibetan Border Police.
“Have you set up helpdesks outside (government) hospitals? You say that you are running an ambulance facility. But how many patients…have been ferried and sent to the Radha Soami Beas Satsang facility (due to non-availability bed in government hospitals),” the court asked.
ASG Jain said steps are being taken and the government will soon write to the lieutenant governor to conduct an immediate meeting with the Delhi Disaster Management Authority (DDMA) on Monday.
To this, the court said, “If you were conscious, you would have taken the steps. You are acting because you were prodded and pushed to do so. You are not aware of the situation which is the reason why you have opened everything under the sun.”
The court would hear the matter later during the course of the day for the Delhi government to obtain instructions on the queries posed by them.