New Delhi: With COVID-19 cases increasing alarmingly, Union Home Minister Amit Shah on Sunday announced that its testing will be doubled in Delhi in the next two days and subsequently increased by three times.
Announcing a slew of measures to check the spread of the coronavirus in the national capital after he held a meeting with Lieutenant Governor Anil Baijal and Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, Shah said that COVID-19 tests will be started at every polling station in containment zones and a comprehensive house-to-house health survey will be conducted in the hotspots for contact tracing.
In view of shortage of beds for coronavirus infected patients in Delhi, the Modi government has decided to immediately provide 500 railway coaches which will be equipped with all facilities, he said.
Also, detailed guidelines will be issued for conducting the last rites of those who succumb to the deadly virus.
Shah said a joint team of doctors of the union health ministry, Delhi government's health department, AIIMS and the three Municipal Corporation of Delhi will visit all COVID-designated hospitals in the capital and prepare a report after inspecting the health systems and preparedness
The development comes two days after the Supreme Court 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. It had also expressed concern over fewer tests being conducted in the national capital and had directed ramping up of testing.
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.
The COVID-19 tally has reached nearly 39,000 in Delhi and the virus has claimed more than 1,200 lives so far in the capital.
"To prevent coronavirus infection in Delhi, testing will be doubled in the next two days and after six days the testing will be increased to three times.
"Also, after a few days, the testing will be started at every polling station in the containment zones," Shah said in a series of tweets in Hindi.
According to the city government's recent submission in the Delhi High Court , the combined daily testing capacity of 40 labs, 17 public and 23 private, is 8,600 per day.
The number of containment zones in capital has increased from 122 on June 1 to 242.
The home minister, who was directed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday to look into the Delhi COVID-19 situation, said in order to carry out the contact tracing well in Delhi's containment zones, a comprehensive house-to-house health survey of every person will be done and its report will be submitted within a week.
For proper monitoring, he said, the Aarogya Setu app will be downloaded in every person's mobile phone.
With the railway coaches provided by the Centre, the number of beds will be increased by 8,000 beds.
He said a committee has been formed to ensure reservation of 60 per cent beds for coronavirus patients in private hospitals at low rates and to fix rates of COVID-19 treatment and testing.
The committee will submit its report by Monday.
The home minister said in order to provide correct information and guidelines for coronavirus to small hospitals in Delhi, the central government has decided to constitute a committee in AIIMS with senior doctors for telephonic guidance so that the best systems can be communicated to the ground level. Its helpline number will be released on Monday.
Shah said the central government will provide the Delhi government necessary resources like oxygen cylinders, ventilators, pulse oximeters and all other requirements.
The home minister said India is fighting the coronavirus strongly and the government is sad and sensitive to the suffering of the families who lost their dear ones due to the infection.
The government has decided to release new guidelines for the last rites of those dying of coronavirus, which will reduce the waiting period, he said.
Shah said the central government will also make available its five senior officers to the Delhi government to help fight the coronavirus vigorously.
The Union Health Ministry, the Delhi government, all departments concerned and experts have been instructed to ensure that the decisions taken on Sunday are implemented well till the ground level.
The home minister said under Prime Minister Narendra Modi's leadership, the country has been fighting the coronavirus with full vigilance and participation.
He said many voluntary organisations are also doing very excellent work.
In this context, the government has decided to add the Scouts and Guides, NCC, NSS and other NGOs as volunteers in health services to fight the pandemic.
"The Modi government is determined to prevent the spread of coronavirus infection in the country's capital," Delhi.
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 another 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 national capital.
The LG, 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.
After the Supreme Court observation, the Arvind Kejriwal 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.
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....