It's not just internal security matters that is keeping Union Home Minister Amit Shah busy these days. He is keeping a hawk’s eye on the national capital’s COVID-19 situation. Shah held a meeting with chief ministers of Delhi, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh for a unified strategy for COVID-19 in the National Capital Region (NCR) on Thursday.
Critics have started comparing Shah’s focus on Delhi to his micromanagement of party matters when he was BJP president. While his deep understanding of political developments in various states helped the BJP win more seats in assembly elections at that juncture, it is yet to be seen if Shah’s micromanagement and methods of understanding the medical situation in Delhi can help the city emerge from the COVID-19 crisis.
As on July 1, the national capital has over 89,000 COVID-19 positive cases, and 2,803 people have succumbed to the virus.
At Thursday's meet, it was decided that more testing using Rapid Antigen Test Kits will be done to help reduce the infection transmission rate. These kits can be provided by the Centre to UP and Haryana, said the home ministry. Shah said nearly 90 per cent screening is possible through these kits and this can help in reducing infection transmission rate below the 10 per cent suggested by World Health Organization.
Increased focus will be given to early hospitalisation to reduce mortality rates. It was also stressed that Aarogya Setu and Itihaas App should be used extensively to help map COVID-19 spread in NCR. UP and Haryana will be able to avail AIIMS-Telemedicine consultation through which patients will get advice from experts, and small hospitals in both states, too, can take guidance from AIIMS.
“The training for doctors in small hospitals in UP and Haryana can be provided by AIIMS with the help of Tele-videography,” said the MHA.
Dr V.K. Paul, who is a member of NITI Aayog, also gave a presentation on the strategy of tackling COVID-19 in NCR. He provided details of best practices adopted in Delhi-NCR and the way ahead.
Sources said Shah’s focus on Delhi is such that almost every evening two reports are prepared on all the critical aspects of the fight against coronavirus for the home minister's office. These reports include all critical parameters, from number of beds available in general to ICU beds to number of freshly admitted patients to number of lives lost in the battle against the pandemic. The reports are received by the home secretary’s office and then Shah personally reviews them every day.
Following his review, necessary directions are given to the disaster management division of the MHA on the aspects needing intervention from the Union government, which then coordinates all aspects with the newly appointed nodal officer for COVID-19 management in Delhi, B.S. Bhalla, who is also principal secretary (home) in Delhi government.