MHA’s common COVID-19 strategy for Delhi-NCR after July 15

Union Home Minister Amit Shah on Thursday directed all the Delhi-NCR authorities to come together with a unified strategy and submit a report on their preparedness by July 15 to his ministry so that a common strategy can be devised in “mission mode” to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic.

The meeting was also attended by Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal. Shah instructed the officials from Uttar Pradesh and Haryana to submit details about the COVID-19 beds, ventilators, oxygen cylinders, ICU and ambulances available with them and their plan to augment these resources by July 15 to the MHA so that a common strategy can be devised in the NCR against the virus.

In a 75-minute meeting that began at 12 noon in the North Block office of the Minister, Shah emphasised on the issue while taking stock of the COVID-19 situation and preparedness to contain the virus in the national capital and the National Capital Region. This was the third meeting between Shah and Kejriwal on the COVID-19 situation in the national capital, which has so far reported 47,102 confirmed cases that include 27,741 active cases and 1,904 deaths.

Keeping in view the close knit urban structure of the NCR region, Shah said “it is necessary for all concerned authorities in Delhi and the NCR region to come together to tackle the virus”. The Union Home Minister said that in order to control the virus, there is a need to test more and it is also necessary to identify and treat those who are diagnosed as positive. “There is a need to work in a mission mode.”

Shah said the Expert Committee under the chairmanship of NITI Aayog Member V.K Paul has fixed a price of Rs 2,400 for COVID-19 tests. If the price for such tests is higher in the states of Uttar Pradesh and Haryana, then the state governments could decide to lower the prices after internal consultations. The Minister told the meeting that the committee also decided on rates for COVID-19 beds and treatment, and these rates could also be applicable to hospitals in the NCR region after consultations.

He stressed on the need to conduct COVID-19 tests through the new Rapid Antigen methodology that has been approved by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), saying “it will ramp up testing capacity, and will help in early diagnosis and early treatment”. Shah assured all possible support from the Central Government to the authorities in the NCR region in their efforts against the virus.

The meeting was also attended by senior officials from the Union Government, Chief Secretaries of Delhi, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh and other senior officers from Delhi-NCR.

Chief Secretary Vijay Dev, Delhi Police Commissioner S.N. Srivastava and Gautam Buddha Nagar District Magistrate Suhas L.Y. were among other Delhi-NCR senior officers who participated in the meeting. Union Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla also attended the meeting that was arranged after two consecutive meetings chaired by the Home Minister on June 14-15 to handle the COVID-19 situation in Delhi.

The meeting was organised soon after Shah directed to do double testing for COVID-19 in Delhi from Thursday as per the new Rapid Antigen methodology — the technique which will be much faster and cheaper. For this, the test kits will be provided to Delhi on a priority basis. A total of 169 centers have been set up here for the collection and testing of samples.