Five-day institutional quarantine has been made mandatory for every COVID-19 patient under home quarantine in Delhi, Lt Governor Anil Baijal ordered on Friday, a decision the AAP government termed “arbitrary” and claimed would “seriously harm” the National Capital.
The Delhi government also said the Centre should reconsider the decision that is expected to put severe pressure on the existing health infrastructure in view of the shortage of doctors and nurses to treat serious coronavirus patients.
As of Friday, Delhi had 53,116 coronavirus cases of which 27,512 were active. The number of those under home isolation stood at 10,490. Of the 10,961 beds, only 5,078 were vacant.
Baijal further said in his order that “mandatory physical verification of each case under home quarantine is to be carried out by the surveillance teams of district surveillance officers under the overall supervision of the district magistrate” in order to limit the spread of COVID-19 in view of the surge in cases.
He also ordered discontinuation with immediate effect of the services of a private agency which was making telephonic contact with home quarantined individuals to guide them.
At least four district magistrates said there is no clarity yet on whether the order on institutional quarantine also covers existing home quarantined patients.
They said a clarity might come on Saturday during a high-level meeting of the Delhi Disaster Management Authority, to be chaired by the LG.
The order implies that every coronavirus patient has to necessarily spend five days in institutional quarantine, a government-run facility dedicated for coronavirus patients.
The Delhi government, however, is not happy with what it called an “arbitrary” decision, and demanded that it be reconsidered by the Centre. Also, a senior official said the decision will only serve to scare away people from getting tested.
In a statement, the Delhi government said the home isolation programme has been one of the most successful initiatives in the battle against COVID-19.
The Delhi government has treated thousands of mild and asymptomatic cases at home so far through daily monitoring and counselling, it said, adding home isolation protocol is being carried out strictly as per ICMR guidelines and those of the Centre.