Amid rising concern over the rapid growth of the novel coronavirus cases, Union Home Minister Amit Shah on Sunday held a meeting with Lieutenant Governor Anil Baijal, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and others to discuss the situation in Delhi.
The meeting comes in the wake of increasing number of coronavirus cases in Delhi, where the tally has reached nearly 39,000 cases and the death toll rose to over 1,200.
The meeting is focused on how to tackle the pandemic in Delhi, availability of hospital beds, testing facilities and improvements of other heath infrastructure, a government official said.
Apart from Shah, Baijal and Kejriwal, those who attended the meeting include Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia, Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan, members of the State Disaster Management Authority and senior officers from the Home and Health ministries.
The home minister has also called a separate meeting in the evening with the mayors of Delhi’s three municipal corporations — North, South and East — and commissioners of the civic bodies to discuss the coronavirus situation in the capital.
The lieutenant governor, chief minister and the Union health minister will also attend the evening meeting. The number of coronavirus cases in Delhi is the third highest in the country after Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu.
There has been criticism from different quarters over the handling of COVID-19 cases in the capital, with complaints of non-availability of beds in hospitals for patients and difficulty in getting the tests done in laboratories.
The Supreme Court had on Friday lashed out at the AAP government, describing as “horrific” the state of affairs in Delhi hospitals with bodies being stacked next to COVID-19 patients.
Taking note of the “gravity” of the COVID-19 situation, the Delhi High Court has also directed the AAP government and the Centre to increase the number of beds and ventilators for the coronavirus patients.
After the Supreme Court observation, the Arvind Kejriwal-led government said it accepts with utmost respect and sincerity the apex court’s remarks and pointed out that it was trying its best to set up better infrastructure and provide quality healthcare to all COVID-19 patients in the city.
Baijal has also formed a six-member panel to formulate a COVID management plan and suggest ways to ramp up medical infrastructure in the capital.
This comes close on the heels of Baijal’s recent assertions on hospital beds and testing, and overturning of two Delhi government orders — reserving hospital beds only for residents of Delhi and testing of only symptomatic patients.
The members on Baijal’s advisory committee are ICMR DG Balram Bhargava, AIIMS Director Randeep Guleria, National Disaster Management Authority members Krishna Vatsa, Kamal Kishore and others.
India saw the highest single-day spike of 11,929 novel coronavirus cases in the last 24 hours, taking the number of infections to over 3.20 lakh on Sunday, while the toll crossed the 9,000 mark with 311 more deaths, the Health Ministry said.