The Delhi Government on Thursday informed the Delhi High Court that it has increased the testing capacity and the fleet of ambulances to deal with the rising number of COVID19 cases in the national capital.
The information was given to the Division Bench of Chief Justice DN Patel and Justice Prateek Jalan in a suo moto matter concerning the preparedness of Delhi to deal with COVID19 pandemic.
While acknowledging the work done so far by both the Centre and the Delhi Government, the court pointed out that there's a need to fill the communication gap between the government and the officers posted in these hospitals.
'Officers posted in the hospitals should be made aware of the orders of this court and that the same are required to be implemented', the court highlighted.
The court also emphasised that the names of Nodal Officers should also be made available to the public so that they can be directly spread approached in case of any grievances.
At the outset, Mr Rahul Mehra, who was appearing for the Delhi Government, submitted that helplines have been increased, more ambulances are now being made available and infrastructure for dealing with the rising number of cases.
While informing the court that it can never be at par of conducting tests on every citizen considering the population of the State, the Delhi Government submitted that 18,000 tests are being conducted every day.
On the issue of testing, it was further informed that a total of 89,290 tests have been conducted over a period of 5 days. This figure includes both Rapid Antigen and RT+PCR tests.
'We're at least 15-20 days ahead of what is required of us as of today', Mr Rahul Mehra, who was appearing for the Delhi Government, submitted.
It was also submitted by Delhi Government that it has deployed Senior Nursing Officers in every hospital to monitor the admission process. These officers will ensure that no serious patient of COVID is denied admission in hospitals.
However, it was pointed out that asymptomatic patients or those with mild symptoms are advised home isolation and are not being admitted in the hospitals.
On the issue of reporting on real time data, the Delhi Government has taken the following measures:
a. Hospitals with 50 or more beds have to put up display boards to show information on availability of beds, guidelines on how to download Delhi Corona App and helpline numbers
b. Launched Integrated Disease Surveillance Programme which is the reporting format for all COVID hospitals to follow while reporting real time data
In addition to this, the Delhi Government informed the court that psychological counseling is also being provided to frontline workers who are undergoing stress or other mental health issues. This initiative is being undertaken with the help of Institute For Human Behavioural and Applied Sciences (IBHAS).
The Central Government submitted that it has appointed Nodal Officers in the hospitals which are under its administration.
As far as the testing is concerned, Centre submitted that hospitals are strictly adhering to the guidelines and testing every person who is approaching them.
ASG Maninder Acharya, who appeared for the Centre, further submitted that senior officers are being posted in hospitals to ensure prompt action and the data is also being provided to hospitals in other parts of the country.
Amicus Om Prakash, at this point, questioned the Delhi Government as to how many ambulances out of the number specified by it are made available dedicatedly to COVID19 patients.
'There should be separate ambulances for COVID19 patients', Mr Prakash argued.
While highlighting that the real time data is still not regularly updated on the Delhi Corona app, it was informed by Mr Prakash that the data submitted by the hospitals under the Integrated Disease Surveillance Programme should be made available to the public as well.
Mr Prakash further informed the court that the hospitals did not address his requests for sharing data seriously. Grievances were raised against the functioning of Saroj Hospital, GTB Hospital and RML Hospital.
'They put me on hold and the bell kept on ringing. RML Hospital refused to share the information and disconnected the call', he said.
Mr Prakash informed the court that the regular updating of real time data is still a measure issue which both the governments need to address.
At this point, the court rapped the government counsels by saying:
'Why are your officers not seeing the problems the way amicus is seeing them.If your officers are working, change them. If you can't change them, we will change them. Don't feel shy in taking action against adamant or errant officers. If these officers are following your actions you should take action against them.'
The court further added:
'Good action should not be washed away by the work of such officers. All the directions and efforts of the court will be of no use.'
Further highlighting the concerns, Senior Advocate Chander Lall said that the capping of rates for testing has discouraged the private labs from collecting testing samples from home.
Mr Lall further submitted that the government also has to ensure that non-COVID patients are not being denied super speciality treatment.
After these submissions, the court asked both the governments to ensure that the real time data is being updated by the hospitals in accordance with law.
The court will next take up the matter on July 16.