As COVID-19 cases surge, Centre takes charge of Delhi’s pandemic response

With more than 62,000 Coronavirus infected cases reported, Delhi has become the second worst-hit city in the country. The surging number of virus-infected cases and poor handling of the health crisis by AAP government prompted Union Home Minister Amit Shah to intervene. On June 14, the Home Minister held a high-level meeting with Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal, Lieutenant Governor Anil Baijal and other top officials in the national capital. He called for Delhi and its neighbouring regions to come together in the battle against the virus in view of its close-knit urban structure.

With the Centre taking charge of Delhi’s response to the COVID-19 situation, a revamped unified action plan was implemented to tackle the virus outbreak. From revamping containment zone strategy to strengthening medical services across hard-hit areas, the Home Minister announced a slew of measures to ramp up the efforts to curb the spread of COVID-19.

After the meeting, Amit Shah declared to double up COVID-19 testing in the national capital within the next two days and further three times in the next six days. With this, testing increased manifold in the city. From an average of 5,200 tests between June 6 and June 13, testing increased to over 18,000 on June 21.

Shah laid emphasis on widening the scope of testing and tracing efforts along with intensifying social distancing protocols to ensure minimum virus transmission. With the Centre’s approval, the Delhi government also initiated conducting rapid antigen tests which are faster than RT-PCR tests, according to reports.

Home Minister also announced the deployment of 500 railway coaches to convert them into isolation facilities for infected patients, along with increasing the number of beds to over 8,000. At the same time, price-capping has been proposed for COVID packages in private hospitals. The Centre made it mandatory for the Delhi government to report every COVID-19 death amid reports of discrepancies in death data.

Delhi CM Kejriwal and Deputy CM Manish Sisodia recently assessed the Radha Soami Satsang Beas campus which has been converted into a COVID-19 quarantine facility with 10,000 beds. The facility, covering the area of almost 22 football fields, will start functioning from July 1. Experts are fearing a sharp rise in the number of Coronavirus cases which can touch the one lakh-mark by the end of June and cross 5 lakh by the end of next month.

A revised action plan was adopted after the Supreme Court sharply slammed Delhi and few other states over their poor handling of the pandemic in its June 12 ruling. The top court rebuked the Delhi government for low testing numbers and inflexible health facilities. Taking note of the escalating virus transmission, Home Minister Amit Shah held another meeting virtually with Delhi CM Kejriwal his deputy Sisodia and L-G Anil Baijal on June 21 to discuss strategies for making contact tracing robust and intensify medical services in the National Capital Region.

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