The Aam Aadmi Party government has been known for its delivery. And if it requires Mr Kejriwal and his Cabinet to get on to the street, visit hospitals, and get the system in place, do it(ANI)
Delhi is witnessing a surge of cases of the coronavirus disease (Covid-19). For close to 10 days, it has witnessed over 1,000 positive cases every day. It is the third most severely affected state in the country, after Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu, but on a per capita basis, in terms of population, Delhi will rank as the most affected region in the country. It has the among the highest positivity rates in the country (this measures the number of people who are positive per 100 tests). And its own expert panel believes that the Capital needs to be prepared for 100,000 cases by the end of the month. Even as the data presents an alarming picture, anecdotal evidence suggests that people are struggling to get tested, and get admitted to hospitals. There has also been a range of government directives, against private hospitals and private labs, which presents an image of a rather incoherent policy landscape.
The Delhi government needs to get its act together, and follow a three-pronged approach. The first is science. To its credit, it allowed science to determine its approach in the initial weeks. But this needs to be reinforced. Science dictates widespread testing, a rigorous process of contact tracing, home isolation for asymptomatic cases and those with mild symptoms, hospitalisation for all other cases, and oxygen and, if needed, ventilator support for severe cases. The second is transparency. Delhi needs to be more transparent with data. It took pride in a low fatality rate, until a review process has now thrown up a higher death count than initially assumed. It needs to provide a district-wise break-up of testing and hospital data. All governments, across the world, are overwhelmed due to the health challenge. Instead of blaming others and getting defensive, Chief Minister (CM) Arvind Kejriwal needs to be honest about the scale of the crisis.
And finally, it needs to deliver. There appears to be a major gap in the government’s claims of the number of beds available and the ability of patients to get those beds. For a patient not to get medical support at this time almost amounts to criminal negligence. Blaming private hospitals — which must contribute in meeting the challenge honestly, with price caps on treatment — comes across as evasion of responsibility. The Aam Aadmi Party government has been known for its delivery. And if it requires Mr Kejriwal and his Cabinet to get on to the street, visit hospitals, and get the system in place, do it. The CM asked for Delhi to open up, and claimed the city’s health infrastructure was ready for a surge. It is time to translate that promise into reality.