His remarks set the stage for “an emergency meeting” — a detailed review of the situation in Delhi — to be attended by Union home minister Amit Shah, health minister Harsh Vardhan, Delhi LG Anil Baijal, CM Arvind Kejriwal and senior government officials on Sunday.
Sources said Modi felt there was a need to draw up a plan to slow down and arrest the spread of Covid in Delhi so that medical facilities didn’t get overwhelmed. There was a sense of urgency given the the capital’s importance in economic and political terms.
Sunday’s meeting to be convened by Shah aims at bringing all relevant authorities together and work out measures keeping all scenarios in light of the projections for next two months. It comes after the LG set up an expert committee to guide the city authorities and following sharply critical comments of the Supreme Court and the Delhi high court over the situation in the capital.
Modi suggested Shah and health minister Harsh Vardhan meet the Delhi LG and CM in the presence of senior officials of the Centre, Delhi government and municipal corporations to plan a coordinated and comprehensive response to handle the challenge posed by rising Covid-19 cases. Shah will separately meet the municipal heads on Sunday evening.
Sources said the meetings to be chaired by Shah will discuss the entire gamut of issues relating to the pandemic in Delhi – the current situation and projections for the near future, measures to tackle the rising cases by ramping up health infrastructure and further containment strategies. A tweet by the home minister’s official handle on Saturday said his meeting with Delhi LG and chief minister — to be held at 11 am — will be attended by AIIMS director Randeep Guleria.
The Centre’s review of the Delhi situation comes days after the Delhi LG reversed two decisions of the Kejriwal government on treating only bona fide residents of the city at Delhi government hospitals as well as discontinuing the testing of asymptomatic contacts of Covid-19 positive persons. Also, the Supreme Court had on Friday made adverse observations regarding the “pathetic” conditions in Delhi government hospitals, low daily testing, improper treatment of Covid-19 patients, “undignified” handling of bodies and denial of salaries to doctors and healthcare workers.
On Friday, the Delhi LG set up a committee of experts to suggest measures for ramping up the city’s health infrastructure. As per the Delhi government’s own assessment, the capital would see a surge in cases that may touch 5.5 lakh by July-end and require an estimated 80,000 additional hospital beds.
Out of the total Covid-19 cases so far, two-thirds are in five states with an overwhelming proportion of cases in big cities like Mumbai, Delhi and Chennai.
The Delhi government has meanwhile ruled out reimposition of lockdown in view of the rising Covid-19 cases.