No COVID-19 patient must be allowed to undergo home isolation before mandatory five-day institutional quarantine, Delhi Lieutenant Governor Anil Baijal said in an order, prompting a sharp response from the Delhi government, which has been grappling with an acute shortage of hospital beds. Blaming lack of “physical contact to monitor patients” during home isolation for the spurt of coronavirus cases in the national capital, Mr Baijal directed the authorities to conduct physical surveillance of those in self-quarantine.
“Delhi is reviewed regularly in the Ministry of Home Affairs and it was observed that ‘Home Isolation’ without physical contact to monitor the patients may be a reason for increase in spread of increase in COVID-19 infections in Delhi,” Mr Baijal said in a letter to Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and top officials of the Delhi government.
Mr Baijal, who heads the Delhi Disaster Management Authority, the top decision-making body during the pandemic in the national capital, ordered, “Mandatory physical verification of each case under home isolation is to be carried out by the Surveillance teams of the District Surveillance officers under overall supervision of the District Magistrate.”
A five-day institutional quarantine of each case under home quarantine is to be made mandatory and thereafter will be sent for home isolation except in cases where symptoms require further hospitalisation, he added.
The Delhi government has responded sharply to the centre’s decision, pointing out shortage of doctors, nurses and space to set up huge quarantine facilities.
“Today’s order of the Central government stopping home isolation will discourage people from testing and further spread coronavirus as asymptomatic and mild symptom patients will resist testing and will not be quarantined,” it said.
“Entire manpower of the Delhi government is already stretched. Now, large quarantine centres would need to be made to house thousands of asymptomatic people. Thousands of patients are being treated at home at the moment. After this order, we would immediately need thousands of beds in quarantine centres,” it added.
It further said that the “arbitrary decision” will seriously harm Delhi.
Currently, those who test positive for COVID-19 but are asymptomatic are allowed home isolation with precautions.
Over 8,400 coronavirus patients in Delhi are in home isolation at present.
This is the latest central government decision that is opposed to the Delhi government’s COVID-19 strategy.
Earlier, the Aam Aadmi Party government’s decisions to reserve beds in state-run hospitals for Delhi patients and to restrict testing only to those showing symptoms of COVID-19 were overruled by the Lieutenant Governor, who represents the centre.