The Delhi High Court has vacated the stay imposed by a single judge on the reservation of 80% Intensive Care Unit (ICU) beds in 33 private hospitals in the national capital.
The court said, “In view of the present situation and the spiraling situation that has radically changed in the last three months, the order of September 22, 2020 passed by the single judge, is vacated.” An order was issued on September 12, 2020 by the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government asking 33 private hospitals in the city to reserve 80% ICU beds for Covid-19 patients.
On September 22, 2020, the High Court put a stay order on a petition by the Association of Healthcare Providers. An appeal was taken by Delhi Government in the division bench of the court on October 9 which refused to vacate the stay while adjourning the matter to November 27. The AAP government approached the apex court against these two orders of September 22 and October 9. The Supreme Court has refused to interfere with the HC order staying the AAP government. The state government was asked by the high court as to what exercise it has carried out in reserving 80% ICU beds in 33 private hospitals and stated that the September 12 notification is “outdated” and that “the situation on the ground is much more critical”. Solicitor general (ASG) Sanjay Jain, who represented the Delhi government was questioned by a bench of Justice Hima Kohli and Justice Subramonium Prasad sought to know from additional, “What is the rationale behind selecting these 33 hospitals? What is the density exercise that you have conducted? Is it a random selection? What is the density exposure and how many of the hospitals have been reserved in the Central district of the city with the fourth sero survey report showing an increase in the cases? How have the beds been divided?” He submitted that three factors had been taken into account while choosing the 33 hospitals. He said they had the largest chunk of ICU beds was 2,217 and the remaining 82 private hospitals in the city had 1,051 ICU beds, and they had also been told to reserve about 20%-40% of their ICU beds for Covid-19 patients. The 33 hospitals were better equipped to segregate COVID and non-COVID patients according to him and were popular among the residents too. These hospitals could also increase the number of beds in the ICU and had 20 ambulances available to ferry patients to the Radha Soami Beas Satsang facility. In addition to this, they were offered by the Delhi government, 60 more ambulances. Association of Healthcare Providers were represented by senior advocate Maninder Singh and advocate Sanyam Khetarpal. They said that the33 private hospitals had already reserved 67% of their ICU beds for COVID patients. Singh said 50-55% of the ICU beds were required for non-COVID patients, including new ones and those already under treatment at these private hospitals. On Wednesday (November 11, 2020), the High Court was informed by the government that around one in four of the 15,000 people tested in the latest serological survey in Delhi showed the prevalence of antibodies against Sars-Cov-2. This indicated that while comparing with the previous round of the exercise, the proportion of people with antibodies has remained largely unchanged. The stay imposed by the court by a single judge on the reservation of ICU beds was vacated and it was stated that since the network of nodal officers is already in place, they can coordinate and change the order according to the situation. The Delhi government was asked to file an additional affidavit before the single judge and changed the date of the next hearing to November 26, 2020 from November 18,2020.