New Delhi [India], June 14 (ANI): A day after Prime Minister Narendra Modi held a meeting in which present and emerging scenario of COVID-19 in Delhi was discussed, Home Minister Amit Shah on Sunday announced a series of measures to tackle the disease in the national capital including increasing testing three times in six days, providing 500 converted rail coaches to add 8,000 beds and steps for the availability of 60 per cent coronavirus beds in private hospitals at lower rates.
Amit Shah, who chaired a meeting attended by Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, Lt Governor Anil Baijal and Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan, said the central government is committed to check COVID-19 spread in Delhi and keep the national capital safe.
The meeting took several important decisions to ensure the safety of the citizens of Delhi against infection. The national capital has reported third-highest coronavirus cases in the country.
Amit Shah said that view of the scarcity of beds for coronavirus patients in Delhi hospitals, the central government has decided to immediately provide 500 converted rail coaches to Delhi Government which will make 8,000 more beds available in Delhi. The beds will be equipped with facilities required for treatment of COVID-19 patients.
The minister said a committee has been constituted under the chairmanship of NITI Aayog member VK Paul to ensure the availability of 60 per cent of COVID-19 beds by private hospitals at lower rates and fix the rate of testing and treatment. The committee will submit its report by Monday.
He said house-to-house health surveys will be conducted in containment zones in the national capital to improve contact mapping, and the survey report will be available within a week. For effective monitoring, all residents will be asked to download the Aarogya Setu app on their mobile phones.
The minister said that COVID-19 testing will be doubled within the next two days and tripled after six days to check coronavirus spread in Delhi. Besides the containment zones, the testing facility will be made available in each polling station.
For effective transmission of guidelines and information regarding the disease to clinics and minor hospitals in Delhi, the central government has decided to constitute a committee of senior doctors in AIIMS so that the best practices in the fight against the virus are communicated to the lowest level. A helpline number for telephonic guidance will be set up and given on Monday.
The Home Minister underlined the country's resolve to tackle the pandemic with vigour and said it shares the pain of the families who have lost their dear ones.
He said the government has decided to issue fresh guidelines regarding the last rites of the deceased which will reduce the waiting time.
Noting that the country is fighting COVID-19 with alertness and cooperation of all under the leadership of the Prime Minister, he said it is sincerely indebted to several NGOs for their "exemplary devotion during this crisis".
"In this effort, the government has decided to enroll the services of Scouts and Guides, NCC, NSS and other voluntary organizations as volunteers with health services," he said.
Shah said the central government has also decided to depute five more senior officers to the Delhi government in order to effectively fight the coronavirus.
The minister said that a joint team of doctors of the Health Departments of central and Delhi governments, AIIMS and all three municipal corporations of Delhi will visit all coronavirus hospitals in Delhi and submit a report after inspecting the health infrastructure and preparedness for treatment of COVID-19 patients.
Shah issued directions to ensure that the various decisions taken on Sunday are implemented at the ground level by departments of central and Delhi governments and experts.
He said the Centre has assured the Delhi government that it shall provide all necessary resources including oxygen cylinders, ventilators and pulse oximeters.
The meeting was also attended by AIIMS New Delhi Director Dr Randeep Guleria and senior officers.
After meeting with the Home Minister, Baijal visited Radha Soami Satsang Beas premises in Chhattarpur to inspect the area that his administration plans to convert into 10,000 beds facility for coronavirus patients.
He said a feasibility study will be done by the district magistrate before finalising the location of the makeshift COVID facility.
"I have been told that space is available here and as we would need medical infrastructure, I have come to inspect this place. We will take it forward from here," Baijal said.
Delhi government has also announced plans to add 20,000 beds across hotels, banquet halls and nursing homes as part of measures to ramp up capacity to treat COVID-19 patients.
It said hotels will have 4000 beds, banquets halls 11,000 beds and nursing homes 5,000 beds.
The meeting chaired by Shah came a day after the Prime Minister held a detailed meeting with senior ministers and officials to review India's response to COVID-19 pandemic.
The meeting discussed the present and emerging scenario of the COVID- 19 disease in the national capital and the projections for the next two months.
The Prime Minister suggested that Home Minister and Health Minister should convene an emergency meeting with Lt Governor, Chief Minister of Delhi in presence of all senior officials of central and Delhi governments and municipal corporations to plan a coordinated and comprehensive response to handle the challenge posed by rising cases of COVID-19.
Kejriwal had met the Home Minister earlier in the week also and said later the Centre had assured Delhi government of all cooperation.
Coronavirus cases are rising in Delhi with the metropolis having seen 38958 cases, out of which 22742 are active cases and 1271 patients have died due to infection.
Baijal had earlier this week overturned Delhi government decision to reserve hospitals except those run by the centre for residents of Delhi. Kejriwal later said that the decision will be followed in letter and spirit.
The Supreme Court had on Friday come down heavily on government hospitals over the sorry state of affairs over the handling of bodies in the national capital and said that COVID-19 patients are being treated "worse than animals".
The court had issued notices to Delhi government, LNJP hospital and some other state governments seeking their response in the matter. (ANI)