Delhi govt reversed multiple decisions during COVID-19 pandemic after facing flak

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Published: June 15, 2020 6:30 PM

On May 1, the city government had asked medical directors to get written explanations from COVID-19-infected healthcare workers on how they contracted the disease, despite wearing protective gear. However, the government later said the order was kept in abeyance.

On June 14, the city government withdrew its order to convert small and medium nursing homes into dedicated COVID-19 facilities.

From rescinding its directive to convert small and medium nursing homes into dedicated COVID-19 facilities to withdrawing its order on “indiscriminately” sending doctors and other medical workers in quarantine, the Delhi government has reversed its own instructions during the pandemic, much after facing flak from the medical community.

On June 14, the city government withdrew its order to convert small and medium nursing homes into dedicated COVID-19 facilities. This was not the only order that the AAP government had to withdraw. However, the reversal of the decision came after intense criticism from the Delhi Medical Association (DMA), which said the move will harm the healthcare needs of non-COVID-19 patients.

According to a new order issued by the Delhi government on Sunday, the decision to declare nursing homes as COVID facilities was “withdrawn with immediate effect”. Small and medium multi-speciality nursing homes in the city with 10 to 49 beds were declared as “COVID nursing homes” by the city government on Saturday. Only standalone exclusive eye centres, ENT centres, dialysis centres, maternity homes and IVF centres were exempted.
Earlier this month, another Delhi government order had triggered a controversy in the political circles. It was subsequently overruled by Lieutenant Governor (LG) Anil Baijal.

Baijal had overruled the order to reserve the Delhi government-run as well as private hospitals in the national capital for the residents of the city during the COVID-19 pandemic. After the LG voiced his disapproval, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal announced that his government would implement the LG’s order as this was not the time for “disagreements and politics”.

The LG also overruled the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government’s order for coronavirus testing only for symptomatic patients. Baijal said people in all the nine categories, including those asymptomatic, should be examined, as prescribed by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR). In an order issued last month, the Delhi government had said the quarantine facilities for doctors in hotels be cancelled. This was opposed by doctors, following which the order was withdrawn. The Lok Nayak Jai Prakash Narayan Hospital had also informed its doctors and paramedical staff to vacate the hotels or pay for their own stay. As the government withdrew its order, the hospital also put the order on hold.

On May 1, the city government had asked medical directors to get written explanations from COVID-19-infected healthcare workers on how they contracted the disease, despite wearing protective gear. However, the government later said the order was kept in abeyance.

According to another Delhi government order, medical directors of non-coronavirus hospitals were “indiscriminately” sending doctors and other medical workers in quarantine for 14 days. “This practice is causing an unnecessary shortage of doctors and staff at hospitals,” Health Secretary Padmini Singla had said.

The government said “it seems it is happening because either hospitals are not following the standard operating procedures or such persons are not following the guidelines prescribed for healthcare workers”. “All medical directors are directed to obtain a written explanation from all such persons as to how they got infected or became a contact, in spite of wearing the required protective gear, maintaining safe distance and following precautions,” it said.

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