From the Viewsroom

Covid lessons from Mumbai

PT Jyothi Datta | Updated on June 15, 2020 Published on June 15, 2020

Delhi should cut out insider-outsider talk and get all hands on the deck

In an animated conversation about a year ago, an over-worked doctor commented that people from other States were crowding the already over-burdened government hospitals in Mumbai. Our discussion involved an infant with congenital heart disease whose family hailed from an eastern State. They had come to Mumbai, as it was more equipped to handle the complicated case. The doctor, however, apologised for his statement made from exhaustion after a long day. As a doctor, he admitted, his oath was to treat patients no matter what. And that’s why Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal’s statement on local hospitals treating only residents, struck the wrong note. Delhi is not the only city looking at a rising number of Covid cases.

Mumbai, for instance, faced an uphill task from the start. The linear city had a high number of international travellers and has high-density dwellings, especially in the lower economic segment. But in the last few months, the city administration has brought under its wing, sports facilities, defunct manufacturing compounds and large corporate areas to create quarantine zones. Private hospitals have been roped-in for the government’s Covid efforts, prices have been capped in hospitals and laboratories.

And today, different wards in Mumbai are like war-rooms with individual control-room numbers and officers in charge of these wards, responsible for their operations, testing, hospitalisation, etc. This is not to say the system is perfect, but its “all hands on-deck” approach is visible. And significantly, there are no public statements to make residents feel like outsiders, which no one is, in their own country. Maharashtra’s Health Minister had also interacted with his counterpart in Kerala to understand what they did right on Covid.

If the system is projected to get overwhelmed in the coming months, Delhi’s administrators too need to marshal all resources — doctors, hospitals, laboratories, volunteers, etc — to tide over the crisis. The last thing Delhi needs at this time is an unsavoury political debate.

Published on June 15, 2020
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