Delhi LG overrules Kejriwal govt's orders on reserving hospitals for Delhi residents and COVID testing; AAP claims BJP pressured him

New Delhi, Jun 8 (PTI) Lieutenant Governor Anil Baijal on Monday overruled the two controversial orders of the AAP government on reserving Delhi government-run and private hospitals in the national capital for Delhiites and allowing COVID-19 test of only symptomatic patients.

The Aam Aadmi Party reacted sharply to the LG's move, alleging that he had been pressured by the BJP which is doing 'dirty politics' on the issue.

All government, private hospitals and nursing homes and clinics situated in the national capital of Delhi have to extend medical facilities to all COVID-19 patients coming for monitoring and treatment without any discrimination of being resident or non-resident of Delhi, the LG said in his order.

The development came a day after Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal had announced that hospitals run by the Delhi government and private entities will only treat Delhiites during the coronavirus crisis due to the likely rise in cases in the national capital in the coming days.

Also, all nine categories people, including asymptomatic, as prescribed by the ICMR should be examined in the national capital, according to another order by the LG.

The Delhi government had on Wednesday issued testing guidelines making it mandatory only for symptomatic patients to be tested for COVID-19.

On Monday night, the health department set aside its two orders after the LG's action.

Baijal, who issued the orders in his capacity as the Chairman of the Delhi Disaster Management Authority, made it clear that the Supreme Court has invariably held in several successive judgements that 'Right to Health' is an integral part of 'Right to Life' under Article 21 of the Constitution.

'In exercise of powers conferred under Section 18(3) of the Disaster Management Act, the undersigned in his capacity as the Chairperson of the DDMA, hereby directs all departments and authorities concerned of NCT of Delhi, to ensure that monitoring / treatment is not denied to any patient on the ground of not being a resident of NCT of Delhi,' the order said.

The LG also overruled the city government's order for coronavirus testing only for symptomatic patients, saying it deviated from the ICMR guidelines.

He said this deviation in the ICMR guidelines can result in inadequate contact tracing of affected individuals and can result in further spread of COVID-19 in the national capital.

He said the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) has issued strategy for COVID-19 testing in India on May 18, which has prescribed testing for nine categories, including asymptomatic direct and high-risk contacts of a confirmed case to be tested once between day 5 and day 10 of coming into contact.

The LG said to contain the spread of COVID-19, it is essential to conduct a thorough contact tracing of affected persons, especially in containment zones and as such, the ICMR strategy for COVID-19 testing should be followed without any deviation.

Referring to the AAP government earlier order, Baijal said it had issued an order dated June 6 which changed from the one prescribed by the ICMR.

'Now, therefore, in exercise of powers conferred under Section 18(3) read with Section 18(2)(d) of the Disaster Management Act, 2005, the undersigned hereby directs all departments and authorities concerned of NCT of Delhi, to ensure that ICMR strategy for COVID-19 testing in India issued on May 18 is strictly observed in NCT of Delhi without any deviation,' he said.

Kejriwal on Monday said the LG's order on hospitals has created major problem and challenge for Delhiites.

Taking to Twitter, the chief minister said that providing treatment to people coming from all the over country is a big challenge during COVID-19 pandemic.

The Delhi government will try to make arrangements to provide treatment to all those coming from outside the national capital, said Kejriwal, who has gone into self-quarantine after developing sore throat and fever, and will get himself tested for COVID-19 on Tuesday.

His deputy Manish Sisodia lashed out at the BJP, alleging it has pressured the LG into releasing this order to revoke the AAP government's decision.

'The BJP should be thinking about the welfare of the people. The BJP should take back the decision, we need wise-management not political management. Support the decisions of the state government,' he said.

On Sunday, Kejriwal had justified the decision on hospitals citing the report of a panel which stated that Delhi will need 15,000 beds by the end of June and if people of other states are allowed to get treatment, all beds here will be occupied within just three days.

The panel had been appointed by the Delhi government to guide it on healthcare infrastructure augmentation and overall preparedness of hospitals to battle COVID-19 in the national capital. PTI BUN/ACB UZM RT