With more than 3,000 Covid-19 cases being reported in the National Capital daily, the Arvind Kejriwal government seems to be struggling to fight the coronavirus. By reporting the most number of corona patients in the country, Delhi has become the national hotbed of infection, like New York in the US.
New Delhi has become India’s New York, a hotbed of infections, with an explosion in Covid-19 cases and infections, overtaking Mumbai and becoming the most corona infected city of the country. New York with 2.14 lakh corona cases is America’s infection hotbed as it has reported 17,500 deaths and even been forced to cancel its iconic annual marathon due to the pandemic.
With over 75,000 Covid-19 infections, Delhi has surpassed Mumbai. In a numeric comparison, the number of deaths in Delhi and the National Capital Region, which comprises satellite cities of neighbouring states, add up to a figure of over 2,584 which is higher than 166 nations like Japan, Egypt and Indonesia.
The crisis in Delhi has also weighed heavy on the minds of the Central government that has decided to suspend all international flights to and from India till July 15 and cancel all trains, including passenger, express and suburban, till August 12.
Delhi has become the Covid Capital of the country with a constant flow of over 3,000 fresh cases daily and a cumulative death toll of around 2,500. This has forced the city authorities to plan a house-to-house screening. The exercise will first be completed in 263 containment zones by June 30. The other areas will be covered by July 6. Besides testing people for Covid-19, the visiting teams will also admit positive patients in highly population-dense areas to Covid-19 care centres. Now, the authorities are also planning to use CCTV or drone monitoring to prohibit movement inside containment zones.
Visibly, poor preparation and lack of coordination between the AAP government led by Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and the Central government nominee L-G Anil Baijal are partially to blame for the knee-jerk reactions. The number of coronavirus cases has risen precipitously despite the intervention of Union Home Minister Amit Shah.
The State-Centre friction came into open when Shah had to intervene to reverse two decisions of Baijal on compulsory 5-day institutional quarantine for all infected and mandatory visit to a government facility for all corona positive patients.
An agitated Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia had earlier said, "Today Delhi has two coronavirus models - one is the Amit Shah model, which says that anyone testing positive has to go a quarantine centre. The other one is the Kejriwal model, which says that a team visits the patient's home to assess the severity of the case."
For some relief, there is a buzz that a Hyderabad-based drug maker which has got the nod to make the generic version of the experimental Covid-19 drug Remdesivir, has sent 20,000 vials to five states including Delhi. Maharashtra, Gujarat, Telangana and Tamil Nadu are the other two states. The full course of the drug - each vial is priced at Rs 5,400 - would cost around Rs 35,000 for an adult.
The fear in Delhi has also emboldened the Opposition Congress to attack the AAP government, especially, at a time when Rahul Gandhi is said to be aiming for a return to the party’s helm. The buzz within the party, after Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot raised the demand for early return of Rahul as Congress president, is that Team Rahul preparing a ground for the Nehru-Gandhi family scion to return to the high-profile post. Rahul seems to have impressed his partymen with his early warning that the Narendra Modi government would not be able to handle the pandemic seriously. Rahul is also said to be preparing to up the ante by blaming the Modi government for China's incursions and the poor state of economy.
Taking a cue from Rahul, Delhi Pradesh Congress Committee Anil Kumar said if Kejriwal’s claim of scaling up corona testing is taken at face value, Delhi’s testing is just 22,172 per million. He said that Kejriwal has been claiming that Delhi has now enough Covid beds and the Delhi Corona App also shows vacant beds, but when patients try to get a bed in any of the Covid-designated hospitals, their requests are either turned down or go unanswered.
“The Kejriwal government is known to set impossible targets without making any feasibility study at the ground level. The latest announcement that by July 6, 2020 screening of almost 45 lakh households would be completed, is next to impossible, considering the proven inefficiency of the Aam Aadmi Party government,” he said.
The DPCC chief said that only the other day, Sisodia had written to the Lt. Governor that it would be impossible to arrange ambulances if people are asked to get tests done at institutional centres, as the LG had ordered, instead of allowing home isolation. Anil Kumar said that even when the Covid-19 pandemic situation was getting out of control, the Kejriwal government, instead of taking strong and prompt measures and providing proper facilities to the corona warriors, like doctors, nurses and the paramedical staff, tried to lock horns with the Lt. Governor and the Central Government as a time-wasting tactic. He said that sadly, even now, when Delhi’s corona cases are surging at a marathon speed, the Kejriwal government does not have any sensible and feasible plans to check the fast spread of the pandemic, with the Delhi government itself making the doomsday prediction that the count will go past the 5-lakh mark by July-end.
Under the shadow of an impending Covid Tsunami, Delhi now plans to conduct plasma therapy on 200 patients. Despite the public scare, Kejriwal has claimed that there is no need to panic as the situation is “still under control”. Oximeters that calculate the level of oxygen in the bodies of patients are being distributed among patients under home isolation and the country’s largest Covid centre with 10,000 beds is almost ready at Radha Soami Satsang Beas campus in south Delhi’s Asola-Bhatti area. However, experts warn that the worst is not over yet in Delhi and it could take months before the infection tally flattens before declining. The unlocking of the economy and opening up of markets in Delhi has also lowered the guard among people, who have started believing that the Covid-19 situation in Delhi is on the improvement path. Yet, there seems to be ample reason for the state government and people to remain alert. These measures would yield results only if the AAP government and the Centre work in tandem for the wellbeing of residents of Delhi.