Chandigarh: Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh Friday asserted that no Covid-19 patient coming to the state from any part of the country will be denied treatment.
In a statement issued by the CM following a meeting of the Covid control teams from the six worst-hit districts in Punjab, Singh said India is one country and all its people and resources are common.
“We must not refuse any patient who needs hospital care,” he said. “We will never close our doors to any patient.”
Stressing that “they (patients coming from other states) are our people as India is one country”, the Punjab CM said patients “are welcome to come and we will look after them as our own”.
The comments came after Health Minister Balbir Singh Sidhu raised the issue of outsiders flocking to Punjab for treatment during the meeting. Sidhu told the CM that the state government had to take a call on the matter. Singh was also told that Chandigarh had closed its doors to outsiders.
“The CM, however, put his foot down saying that a patient from anywhere had the right to treatment and states cannot act like watertight islands, denying the right to life to anyone,” said an officer who attended the meeting.
According to estimates, one-fourth of the beds in Punjab are currently occupied by patients from outside the state, the CM was told at the meeting.
Singh, however, also warned of strict action against black marketing, hoarding or private profiteering of oxygen cylinders or smuggling out of Punjab, especially when oxygen allocation of Punjab was itself not being met.
Urging all private hospitals to increase beds, he said these would be supplied adequate oxygen by government agencies and no punitive action will be taken in case of any mishap due to lack of oxygen.
The CM was chairing a virtual Covid emergency review meeting of these six districts — Ludhiana, SAS Nagar (Mohali), Jalandhar, Bathinda, Patiala and Amritsar.
On Thursday, Punjab reported over 6,800 fresh Covid cases and registered 127 deaths, the highest ever since the pandemic broke out last year.
Chandigarh says don’t ask others to come
The Union Territory of Chandigarh, which is capital to both Punjab and Haryana, has taken a stand diametrically opposite to Punjab.
In a statement issued late Thursday, Manoj Parida, Advisor to the Administrator, urged the people of Chandigarh to desist from inviting their friends and family from outside the UT for treatment. He said Chandigarh hospitals are choking and the beds are filling up fast.
While the Centre-run Postgraduate Institute of Medical Education and Research in Chandigarh shares its daily data of beds availability, the Chandigarh administration has refused to give any details of its bed occupancy and availability.
Apart from several private hospitals that are treating Covid patients, the Chandigarh administration runs a government medical college, and government hospitals, which are treating Covid patients.
On Thursday, Chandigarh reported 800 Covid cases. Its total number of active cases now is over 6,650.
Haryana also hasn’t barred anyone yet
Haryana, which has seen the maximum influx of patients from Delhi, has also not officially barred anybody from outside coming in to the state for treatment.
“In Gurugram and Faridabad at least 40 per cent of the Covid-19 patients are from Delhi, Uttar Pradesh and other states,” Dr Usha Gupta, Director Health Services, Haryana told ThePrint.
The state reported almost 14,000 fresh cases of Covid Thursday out of which 5,000 were from Gurugram alone and another 1,500 from Faridabad.
Apart from these two worst-hit districts, the number of Covid cases is also increasing in Karnal, Sonipat and Hisar.
As many as 200 patients are on ventilator support in the various private and government medical colleges of the state and another over 1,000 are on oxygen support, according to government data.
“Till last week, we were trying to keep a tab on the Covid bed occupancy. But due to the sudden increase in demand, many smaller hospitals and nursing homes, which have not been empanelled by the government to treat Covid patients, have started treating them because the priority is to save lives,” said Gupta.
“Since the entire information about Covid positive patients in private hospitals in Haryana is not readily available, we are sticking to giving out information about the bed occupancy in our own medical colleges and government facilities,” she added.