The Centre has withdrawn the order that made it mandatory for those testing positive for the coronavirus to visit a COVID-care centre for a clinical assessment, Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia said on Thursday. With 3,390 fresh instances, the number of coronavirus cases stood at 73,780 in Delhi on Thursday, including 26,586 active ones. Sixty-four fatalities were reported, taking the death toll due to the disease to 2,429 in the city.
Like the earlier system, medical teams will assess the health of a patient by visiting his residence and see whether he needs to be shifted to a hospital or COVID-care centre, Sisodia said after a Delhi Disaster Management Authority (DDMA) meeting.
The lieutenant governor's (LG) order on patients visiting the COVID-care centres for a clinical assessment was a bone of contention between the Centre and the Delhi government. The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) dispensation in the national capital, which had been urging the Centre to reverse the order, said the new system was causing inconvenience to the patients and burdening the already stressed health infrastructure of the city.
"The central government and the LG have scrapped the order of mandatory visit to a COVID-care centre for all positive patients," Sisodia told reporters during an online briefing.
The decision was taken during a meeting of the DDMA, which is headed by the LG.
However, the Union Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) said the DDMA directions on home isolation were a reaffirmation of the decision taken by Home Minister Amit Shah at a meeting on June 21.
"Today's SDMA decision on home isolation of COVID-19 positive patients in Delhi is a reaffirmation of the decision taken at the meeting held by Union Home Minister Shri @AmitShah on 21st June and communicated to Delhi Govt on 22.06.20," the spokesperson of the MHA said in a tweet.
According to a statement issued by the LG's office, those who test positive for the coronavirus through the rapid antigen test will be clinically examined by a medical officer at the testing site to assess the severity of the illness. The assessment made by the medical officer on site "shall effectively constitute an assessment made at the COVID Care Centre".
Those who test positive through the RT-PCR test will be assessed by a home isolation team sent by the district surveillance officer. The team will check the severity of the infection of the patient and whether he is eligible for home isolation.
Home isolation is allowed for the patients with mild symptoms, provided they have a residence of two rooms or a separate room and a separate toilet for the patient.
Sisodia said the earlier system will again be followed in the national capital, where a medical team of the Delhi government will visit a patient's home, check the symptoms and their severity.
If the medical team finds the symptoms severe or that the patient has comorbidities, it would send him to a hospital. Also, in the absence of a provision or arrangement of home isolation for asymptomatic patients, the medical team will refer such patients to a quarantine centre.
Last week, the LG had made a five-day mandatory institutional quarantine provision for all coronavirus patients, a move that the AAP government had termed arbitrary and one that would hurt Delhi.
After protests, the decision was amended, but the LG made a clinical assessment of all coronavirus patients at a COVID-care centre mandatory. This too was opposed by the AAP government.
"We held discussions with them and requested scrapping of this order. Eventually, they agreed," Sisodia said.
He said the system, where every coronavirus patient had to visit a COVID-care centre, was adding to people's woes.
"You do not have to stand in a queue. Home isolation is a good system and over 30,000 people have recovered in home isolation. We should not do away with such a system, because it increases people's problems," the deputy chief minister said.
As on Thursday, with 73,780 coronavirus cases, Delhi has surpassed Mumbai to become the worst-hit city in the country by the pandemic.
In a related development, teams are being formed by drawing personnel from various departments to implement the Delhi government's revised COVID-19 response plan that includes door-to-door surveys for screening coronavirus-infected persons.
Completing the house-to-house screening by July 6, admitting the positive patients in highly population-dense areas to COVID-care centres and CCTV or drone-monitoring to prohibit movement inside the containment zones are among the eight points of the revised COVID-19 response plan issued by the AAP government.
The house-to-house screening will be completed by June 30 in the containment zones and by July 6 for the rest of Delhi, in a mammoth exercise, according to the revised plan.
District-level officials said teams for the exercise are being formed with booth-level officers, civil defence volunteers, anganwadi workers and civic bodies staff among others.
Meanwhile, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal launched a video-call facility for the coronavirus patients admitted at the Lok Nayak Jai Prakash (LNJP) hospital here to talk to their loved ones.
LNJP was declared a COVID-19 hospital on March 17 and since then, it has successfully treated 2,700 coronavirus patients and sent them home. It is the only COVID-19 hospital in the country with 2,000 beds, Kejriwal said.