– globalbihari bureau
New Delhi: A day after a three-judge bench of the Supreme Court of India, led by Justice Ashok Bhushan, issued notices to the Central as well as the five State governments of Delhi, Maharashtra, Gujarat, West Bengal and Tamil Nadu, for the ‘deplorable’ COVID-19 situation in these states and demanded answers from them by next Wednesday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi held a detailed meeting with senior ministers and officials to review the situation here on Saturday.
The bench had also expressed concerns over what it said was lack of adequate testing in Delhi even as the number of Covid-19 cases were shooting up in the capital. The Chief Justice of India SA Bobde had taken up this case on his own and assigned it to this bench.
In today’s meeting, the Prime Minister told his Home Minister and Health Minister to convene an “emergency” meeting with Lt Governor, Chief Minister of Government of NCT Delhi in presence of all senior officials of Government of India, Government of Delhi and officials of Municipal Corporations of Delhi over the rising cases of Covid-19.
The Union Home Ministry in a series of tweets later during the day, stated that Union Home Minister, Amit Shah and Union Health Minister Dr. Harsh Vardhan will hold meeting with Delhi’s Lieutenant Governor Anil Baijal, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, and Commissioners of three municipal corporations of Delhi to review situation in the capital regarding COVID-19 on Sunday at 11 am. Director AIIMS and other senior officers would also be present in the meeting. Thereafter, both the central ministers will hold a meeting with mayors of municipal corporations of Delhi at 5 pm on Sunday to review preparations with regard to COVID-19.
Dr. Vinod Paul, Member NITI, and Convenor of the Empowered Group of Medical Emergency Management Plan, in the meantime pointed out at the PM’s meeting that out of the total cases two-thirds were in these five states with an overwhelming proportion of cases in big cities.
The meeting reviewed the situation in different states and union territories including Delhi. The meeting was attended by the Home Minister, Health Minister, Principal Secretary to PM, Cabinet Secretary, Health Secretary, DG ICMR and other related conveners of the Empowered Groups.
In view of the challenges being faced, particularly by the large cities, it was discussed to augment testing as well as the number of beds and services to effectively handle the peak surge of daily cases.
Prime Minister took cognizance of the recommendations of the Empowered Group on city- and district-wise requirements of hospital beds/isolation beds which will be required and instructed Health Ministry officials to undertake emergency planning in consultation with the States/Union Territories. He also advised the Ministry to ensure suitable preparations in view of the start of the Monsoon season.
In the meantime, in view of the surge in COVID-19 cases, the Chandigarh administration has withdrawn its consent given to other states for operating inter-state buses to bring passengers to the union territory.
In Delhi, for the first time new Covid-19 infection cases crossed the 2,000 mark in Delhi and the death toll rose by 129, according to the Delhi government’s health bulletin on Friday.
In Maharashtra, 3,493 new COVID-19 cases were reported in a single day, on Friday, thereby breaching the one lakh mark of coronavirus infections with a total of 1,01,141 cases till date. Out of this, 49,616 were positive cases. The death toll in the state stands at 3,717. Mumbai city alone has reported 55,451 Coronavirus cases and 2,044 deaths. On Saturday, Maharashtra Government capped maximum price for COVID-19 tests (RT-PCR) at private labs at Rs 2,200, as against the earlier price of Rs. 4,400.
In Kerala, the State government on Saturday decided to to make Covid-19 certificates mandatory for expatriates returning via chartered flights from June 20. The examination report should be done within 48 hours of the journey, the state government stated. It may be mentioned that the number of Keralites who died in Gulf countries has risen to 220. Seventy-eight new cases of Covid-19 were confirmed in the state yesterday and while 1,303 were undergoing treatment, 2,27,402 people were kept under observation in various districts of the state.
In Telangana, a ruling party MLA from Warangal district became the first legislator from the state to test positive for the virus. The Telangana government scotched total shutdown rumour as people of Telangana, especially in Hyderabad were worried over rumours that the state was heading towards a complete lockdown once again. Morevoer, as uncertainty hovered over reopening of educational institutions in the State, several private schools have already launched virtual classes, while some are planning to start from Monday.
(With inputs from Khushboo and Sakshi Patwal in New Delhi)