The Madhya Pradesh government has ordered the closure of all COVID care centers in the state, except those in Bhopal, from January 1 in view of the low occupancy of beds, as per an official order made available on Sunday.
This decision evoked a sharp reaction from the opposition Congress, with its state unit president Kamal Nath questioning the rationale behind the order.
Defending the decision, Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan said the pandemic is under control in the state and there is no justification to keep the COVID care centres open "just for the sake of keeping them open".
As per the state government order dated December 31, 2020, and directed to district collectors and health authorities, a policy decision has been taken to shut the COVID Care centers from the first day of New Year due to low occupancy of beds. These centers were set up across the state for lodging COVID-19 patients.
The order also stated that in the case of the rise of infected patients, health authorities can reopen these centers with the prior permission of the state government.
Meanwhile, Nath tweeted: "Deaths due to coronavirus continuing in the state. The statistics of infection are increasing daily. Even the assembly session was cancelled due to fear of coronavirus and the Shivraj government closed all COVID care centres in the state except Bhopal?"
Hitting back, CM Chouhan said, if required, these COVID care centres will be opened again.
"Does Kamal Nath want COVID centers to remain open always? The COVID-19 situation is fully under control in the state. Arrangements are already in place for providing adequate treatment (to patients). Home isolation is also provided.
"If needed, these COVID care centres will be opened again, but there is no justification to keep them open for the sake of keeping them open," Chouhan said in a statement.
As on January 2, the total number of coronavirus positive cases in Madhya Pradesh stood at 2,43,302 including 3,627 fatalities, as per health officials.