COVID-19 Lockdown: Delhi Government Ramps Up Cooked Food Supply to Poor People

The government has also put in place a contingency plan that provides for hospital beds, ventilators, ambulances and staff availability if there is a spurt in new cases.

New Delhi: With the threat of the novel coronavirus looming large, Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal on Friday said a step-wise blueprint has been prepared for how the medical services will act if the number of new cases each day would cross 100, 500 or 1,000. He said the total number of confirmed cases in Delhi has reached 39, of which 29 were people who arrived from other countries.

As reports of poor people in the city facing hunger and starvation, the Delhi Government will now provide cooked meals to nearly 2 lakh people per day in government schools and night shelters, the chief minister said. This number, he assured, would be increased to 4 lakh meals on Saturday.

‘Isolation beds, ICU beds, ventilators, ambulances factored in’

On the medical contingency plan, Kejriwal said the constituted team of senior doctors has submitted its report. “It provides a list of actions which need to be undertaken if or when the number of new cases reported daily go up to 100, 500 or 1,000. It spells out what needs to be done,” Kejriwal said.

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Stating that the number of new cases being reported daily is currently just three or four, he said, “Enough arrangments are in place.” The chief minister said the government has prepared for a spurt, but hoped that such a situation would not arise.

Kejriwal said the plan incorporates details like how many isolation beds will be needed, how many ventilators and ICU beds are required. “It also factors in the number of tests that would be required for the patients, those showing symptoms and their relatives,” he said.

Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal addresses a digital press confrerence on coronavirus. Photo: Twitter/AAP

Availability of doctors and nurses

Also, he said, the report has taken into account the number of ambulances, doctors and nurses and other staff that would be required to deal with the situation. “It also plans for their accommodation and facilities.”

At every stage, the report lays down the number of hospitals that would have to act or be prepared to take in more patients, and how and from where the ambulances will be sourced.

An eye will also be kept on the shortages that may be encountered. “It speaks about the shortcomings we may see: For example with the availability of ventilators, and how we can plan for them today. Right now, we are reporting just 4-5 patients and I hope this number will reduce. That is why we are in a lockdown,” the AAP chief said.

325 schools to provide meals to 2 lakh people now

Kejriwal then discussed the issue of a large number of poor teetering on the verge of starvation in the city. “For the very poor, we are providing rations. But for those who do not have ration cards or food, the government is providing cooked food at 224 ‘rain baseras’ (night shelters). Over 20,000 meals were being served regularly,” he said.

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“But,” he said, “the government realised that this number was too little and we were getting reports of people being hungry. So we are ramping up the arrangements and from Friday, we will provide lunch and dinner to at least 500 people each in 325 government schools. Now, we will be able to feed nearly 2 lakh people. From Saturday, this will go up to 4 lakh people per day.”

‘Food centres should follow social distancing’

Kejriwal said food distribution centres will be set up across the city so that people do not have to walk too far. “I have also told my MLAs to make arrangements for food while keeping social distancing in mind. This lockdown will mean nothing if coronavirus cases start spreading. People should be seated at some distance and should be encouraged to wear masks,” he said. He also thanked social organisations, gurdwaras and religious groups that are running community kitchens for “helping a great deal in this hour of crisis”.