Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Sunday announced that the hospitals run by the Delhi government and private entities will only treat Delhiites during the coronavirus crisis while the city's borders will be reopened from Monday.
Addressing an online media briefing, Kejriwal said hospitals run by the Centre will have no such restriction, and if people from other states come to the national capital for specific surgeries, they can get medical treatment at private hospitals.
The announcement comes a day after a five-member panel constituted by the Aam Aadmi Party government suggested that the health infrastructure of the city should be used only for treating Delhiites in view of the raging COVID-19 crisis.
Till March, all the hospitals of Delhi were open to all.
The residents of Delhi never denied treatment to any person ever, the chief minister said, adding that at any given time nearly 60-70 per cent of patients in Delhi hospitals are from other states.
"Nearly 7.5 lakh people have sent their suggestions to us and over 90 per cent people want Delhi hospitals to treat patients from the national capital during the coronavirus pandemic.
"Hence, it has been decided that government and private hospitals in Delhi will only treat patients from the national capital," Kejriwal said.
The chief minister had last week sought views of the people in Delhi on the issue, while announcing the decision to close the city's borders.
"Delhi's health infrastructure is needed to tackle the coronavirus crisis at the moment," Kejriwal said on Sunday.
There are around 40 Delhi government-run hospitals in the national capital including LNJP Hospital, GTB Hospital and Rajiv Gandhi Super Speciality Hospital.
Among the major Centre-run hospitals in the city are RML Hospital, AIIMS and Safdarjung Hospital.
Delhi government hospitals have around 10,000 beds while the Centre-run hospitals have almost the same beds, Kejriwal said, adding that it will strike a balance and protect the interest of those belonging to the national capital and other states as well.
He said that the Centre-run hospitals will continue to treat people belonging to other states and his government has not issued any separate order for the same.
"We are going to reopen Delhi's borders tomorrow. Malls, restaurants and religious places will open but hotels and banquets will remain closed as we might need to convert them into hospitals in the coming time," Kejriwal also said.
In its report, the panel had pointed out that Delhi will need 15,000 beds by the end of June and if people of other states are allowed to get treatment, all beds here will be occupied within just three days, Kejriwal said during the online conference.
"Till March, Delhi used to treat all people of the country, but at the time of this crisis, Delhi hospitals need to be reserved for the people of Delhi," he said.
The panel, headed by Indraprastha University vice-chancellor Dr Mahesh Verma, had on Saturday submitted its report to the government.
The Delhi government had asked the panel to guide it on healthcare infrastructure augmentation and overall preparedness of hospitals to battle COVID-19 in the national capital.
The panel was also asked to guide the government on any other area where strengthening of infrastructure is required to better manage the pandemic in Delhi.
"Relaxations do not mean that coronavirus disease has ended," said the chief minister.
"Wearing a mask is for your own safety. I am still getting reports that people are going out without masks. You have to wear a mask, maintain social distancing and wash your hands to keep yourself safe from COVID-19 infection," he added.
He also urged senior citizens to observe extra caution, and reduce interaction 'even with family members' as much as possible.
"My appeal to the senior citizens of Delhi is, do not think that the lockdown is over because senior citizens are the most vulnerable section right now.
"If there are young people in your house who are going outside for work then avoid any interaction with them and maintain social distancing. If you want to go out then just go for a walk but do not interact with anyone," he said.
The senior citizens and people with comorbid conditions should be very careful because these two sections are more vulnerable to COVID-19, he added.
On Saturday, Delhi recorded 1,320 fresh coronavirus cases, taking the COVID-19 tally in the city to over 27,500 while the death toll due to the disease mounted to 761.
The highest single-day spike in fresh cases -- 1,513 -- was recorded on June 3.