Delhi will need 1.5 lakh beds by July 31 once people start coming from other states for COVID-19 treatment, chief minister Arvind Kejriwal said on Wednesday, and declared that the Lieutenant Governor's orders overruling his government's decisions on coronavirus will be implemented as "this is not the time for disagreements and politics".
Addressing an online media briefing, he said his government has "unprecedented challenges" ahead as data shows that COVID-19 cases will rapidly increase in Delhi, but asserted that around 1,900 patients got beds in hospitals in the last eight days and 4,200 beds were still available, a claim that comes amidst reports of acute shortage of beds in healthcare facilities in the national capital.
"Delhi will need 1.5 lakh beds in healthcare facilities by July 31 once people start coming to the city for treatment from other states", Kejriwal said in his first virtual briefing since Sunday afternoon when he went into self-isolation after he developed sore throat and fever. His COVID-19 test is negative.
The chief minister said out of the 1.5 lakh beds, it is estimated that 80,000 will be required for Delhiites, adding that the calculation is based on numbers that showed 50 per cent of the beds in hospitals in the national capital were occupied by those from other states before the coronavirus pandemic.
Kejriwal's remarks came a day after his deputy Manish Sisodia had warned of exponential growth in coronavirus cases in the national capital, and estimated the numbers to go up to 5.5 lakh by July 31.
The chief minister said in the next few days he will personally step out to supervise the preparations to convert hotels and banquet halls into healthcare facilities, a day after a meeting of Delhi Disaster Management Authority chaired by Lt Governor Anil Baijal, decided to utilise banquet and marriage halls to ramp up medical facilities.
On reversal of his government's decisions by Baijal to reserve state-run and private hospitals in the national capital for Delhiites, he said some people are saying that the Centre and the LG do not have any power to turn down the decision of an elected government, which was formed following a huge mandate.
"However, we will implement the Centre's decision and LG's order in letter and spirit because this is not the time for disagreement and arguments. I want to send a message to those sitting in the government and political parties that it will be implemented. This is not the time to do politics. All of us have to fight together and defeat COVID-19," he said.
Delhi will need 65,000 beds by July 15 once the people from other states start coming to Delhi for treatment and out of 65,000 beds, 33,000 beds will be required for Delhiites, he added.
The Aam Aadmi Party dispensation will make an "honest effort" to provide medical treatment to all, Kejriwal said but requested the state governments to ramp up their medical infrastructure so that most people do not need to come to Delhi for better treatment.
The chief minister urged Delhiites to make three things "a mass movement" -- wearing masks, following social distancing and washing hands.
"COVID-19 cases are increasing very fast. We have to protect ourselves. If somebody is not following these three norms, we have to request him or her with folded hands to do these things as all of us had done during the implementation of odd-even rules," he said.
Kejriwal said 31,000 coronavirus cases have so far been reported in Delhi and of these, 18,000 are active. Around 15,000 COVID-19 patients are being treated in home isolation, he added. He thanked the media for highlighting the discrepancy in the system and requested it to continue to do so.