A day after Arvind Kejriwal announced that hospitals run by the Delhi government and some private hospitals will be reserved for residents of the capital amid a surge in coronavirus cases, the Lieutenant Governor has overruled the decision.
Everyone will be treated in Delhi without “discrimination”, Lieutenant Governor Anil Baijal said in an order on Monday, asserting that treatment “should not be denied to any patient on grounds of being a non-resident”.
Mr Baijal also overturned the Delhi government’s order on testing only those showing COVID-19 symptoms and said asymptomatic cases and high-risk contacts of a virus patient will also be tested.
The Lt Governor’s order on hospitals referred to the Supreme Court saying in various judgments that “Right to Health” is an integral part of “Right to Life” in the constitution. All government and private hospitals and nursing homes have to extend all COVID-19 treatment facilities without any discrimination against residents or non-residents, the order said.
Arvind Kejriwal, who is unwell and will take a coronavirus test tomorrow, had announced yesterday that the 10,000 beds under the Delhi government would be reserved for residents. Beds under the Central government can be used by all, he said, adding that private hospitals offering special treatment would also be open to all. After the announcement, he also reopened Delhi’s border, which, he said, was sealed over the influx of patients from other cities.
The Chief Minister said he had acted on the advice of a five-member committee of doctors that had predicted that by the end of June, Delhi would need 15,000 beds. “They believe that the 9,000 beds that are currently with us will be taken over in three days if we allow people from other states to take admission,” Mr Kejriwal said at a virtual press conference.
The decision had drawn criticism both from the ruling BJP and the Congress.
“Excellent step by LG to overrule Delhi Govt’s idiotic order of not treating patients from other states! India is ONE and we have to fight this pandemic together!” – tweeted BJP MP Gautam Gambhir.
Excellent step by LG to overrule Delhi Govt’s idiotic order of not treating patients from other states! India is ONE and we have to fight this pandemic together! #IndiaFightsCorona
— Gautam Gambhir (@GautamGambhir) June 8, 2020
Senior Congress leader P Chidambaram also questioned the move in tweets, saying: “Mr Kejriwal says Delhi hospitals are only for Delhiites. Will he please tell us who is a Delhiite? If I live or work in Delhi, am I a Delhiite?”
I thought if a person had enrolled in Jan Arogya Yojana/Aayushman Bharat, he can seek treatment in any enlisted hospital, public or private, anywhere in India?
Did Mr Kejriwal take legal opinion before he made his announcement?
— P. Chidambaram (@PChidambaram_IN) June 8, 2020
The former Union Minister said he thought if anyone had enrolled in Jan Arogya Yojana/Aayushman Bharat, they could seek treatment in any enlisted hospital, public or private, anywhere in India. “Did Mr Kejriwal take legal opinion before he made his announcement,” questioned Mr Chidambaram.
Mr Kejriwal and AAP had justified the decision in the backdrop of allegations about covid-19 patients or suspected cases being turned away by hospitals and many private hospitals claiming they were full up despite a Delhi government app showing available beds.
Delhi Health Minister Satyendra Jain said going by the doubling rate in the capital, Delhi would have around 56,000 coronavirus cases in two weeks.