Mixed bag of facilities at Delhi’s Covid care centres
Dakshinpuri residents Amit Sagar (35) and his wife Komal (26) were shifted to a Delhi government-run Covid Care Centre (CCC) at Terapanth Bhawan in Chhatarpur from home isolation on Saturday afternoon, following lieutenant governor Anil Baijal’s order requiring asymptomatic/mild cases of Covid-19 to be mandatorily quarantined at a facility for five days. Both of them did not have any symptoms.
A day later, the order was rescinded and the couple now wants to be sent back home, which they say is a more hygienic environment.
“The rooms they showed us were not clean. Used masks were hanging on the doorknobs. But when we requested the staff to sanitise the room, they did so immediately. They should check all this before allotting the rooms,” Sagar said, while adding that the facility was largely well-managed and they were satisfied with the food.
The Terapanth Bhawan, a guesthouse, however may not be representative of a typical CCC. Here, rooms -- which are meant to be shared by two people -- are air conditioned and there is an attached bathroom.
A majority of the 18 CCCs, however, are in government schools or flats constructed by the Delhi Development Authority and Delhi Urban Shelter Improvement Board (DUSIB) for people from economically weaker sections and the lower-income group categories -- making these unlikely to be equipped with an AC or be as spacious. Some require residents to use common lavatories.
The government initially set up CCCs to house mild and moderate cases of the coronavirus disease (Covid-19). A majority of the people evacuated from the Tablighi Jamaat headquarters at Nizamuddin West in March were housed at the CCCs in Narela, Badarpur, Mandoli Jail complex and Bakkarwala.
Since May, when the Union ministry of health and family welfare allowed asymptomatic patients to isolate themselves at home if they had the adequate infrastructure, these facilities are being used to house patients who don’t have a separate room and bathroom at home.
Currently, the 18 CCCs have a total of 5,909 beds, of which 1,607 were occupied till Monday.
Another resident at the Terapanth Bhawan said she would prefer to be at home instead. Anita (35) said she first agreed to come to the facility hoping there would be better medical facilities. “I feel weak and breathless. I thought I’d be kept under observation. But the doctor only checks up on me over the phone. The facility is good, but I think I would have taken better care of myself at home, as there is no special medical treatment for this,” she said.
The 120-bed Covid Care Centre in Badarpur is in a government school. The isolation facility comprises 23 classrooms, each housing four or five patients. Currently, there are 97 patients at the facility, which is manned by a team of five doctors and support staff.
A doctor at the facility, who asked not to be named, said there is no air-coolers as a precautionary measure and the residents have had to face a mosquito problem since windows and doors are kept open for ventilation. “They often keep the doors open for ventilation. With intermittent rain, there is a problem of mosquito breeding. We have provided mosquito repellents to the patients,” this person said.
The situation is the same at Narela, Bakkarwala and the Mandoli jail complex. At Narela, the government has turned 1,000 DDA LIG flats into a CCC facility. Currently, there are 450 patients here, including those who have returned from abroad under the Vande Bharat mission.
At these flats, each room has a separate bathroom. But CCCs operating from school complexes such as in Badarpur and New Friends Colony require residents to use common lavatories.
While Sagar and Anita said that the food at the centre was good, another woman who requested anonymity said that her daughter and in-laws, who had tested positive on June 19, didn’t get dinner at the Mandoli jail complex CCC as they reached the centre late.
“They were taken to the quarantine facility in an ambulance. But as they reached the centre late, they didn’t get anything to eat that day despite several requests to the authorities. But now, everything is fine. All three of them are recovering well,” the woman, a resident of Deoli, said.
A senior government official said, “These facilities have been set up in a short period and their functioning has been streamlined now. We try to address logistical issues immediately. We have not received any complaint so far regarding our Covid Care Centres.”
With the Delhi Disaster Management Authority, headed by lieutenant governor Anil Baijal, making it mandatory for asymptomatic patients to be taken to these centres for clinical assessments, many residents’ welfare associations opposed the idea and requested the L-G and Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal to review the decision.
Rajiv Kakria, the convener of Save Our City campaign and a resident of GK-I said, “If a person is asymptomatic, why should they be taken to Covid Care Centres for clinical screening? It is impractical. It will only increase the chances of transmission of the disease. We have been demanding that a strong monitoring mechanism involving RWAs be put in place for effective management and coordination for those in home isolation.”
Gufran Nawaz, who returned to India from Oman under the Vande Bharat mission and lived at the Narela facility for a week before he left for West Bengal, said, “I was at the quarantine centre from June 11 to June 17. The quarantine facility is very good.”
A Delhi government spokesperson said, “As and when we get a complaint, we rectify it immediately.”