Using 2 luxurious hotels as Covid facility 'advisable and feasible': Expert panel tells Delhi HC
The Delhi High Court was informed by an expert committee of doctors that it was 'advisable and infrastructurally feasible' to use two luxurious hotels here -- Hotel Surya and Hotel Crowne Plaza -- as extended Covid-19 facilities.
The two-member committee of AIIMS Director Randeep Guleria and V.K. Paul, member of the Niti Aayog, submitted its report before justice Navin Chawla who conducted the hearing through video conferencing.
The committee after visiting the hotels is of the opinion that it is advisable as well as infrastructurally feasible to use Hotel Surya, New Friends Colony, and hotel Hotel Crowne Plaza, Okhla, as extended Covid facilities in NCT of Delhi, the report said.
The panel said Hotel Surya has three huge banquet halls, which can easily accommodate around 50-60 patient beds, and a central lobby, which can act as a central nursing station.
Similarly, Hotel Crowne Plaza has one banquet hall which could accommodate around 25 beds, it said.
These banquet halls can be appropriately equipped and converted into dedicated Covid health centres if the need arises on account of acute shortage of hospital beds in the NCT of Delhi, the report stated.
It added that as both the hotels have not been designed as hospitals, the guest rooms do not have oxygen supply, patient monitoring devices and nurse call system, accordingly, these hotels are ideally suitable for use as Covid Care Centres in line with Guidance document on appropriate management of suspect/ confirmed cases of Covid-19' issued by the ministry of health and family welfare on April 7.
The report said apart from clinical care, the attached hospital must ensure training of hotel staff in infection control practices, including donning/ doffing process and the hospital must ensure availability of HCQ prophylaxis and appropriate Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) for all its healthcare workers and hotel staff on Covid duty.
The committee members, subject experts and Delhi government officials inspected the hotels on June 12 and 13 and interacted with the hotel representatives and other staff.
The committee has not made any recommendations on the concerns of hotels like loss of business, financial condition of hotels, non-functional support systems and non-availability of manpower which Delhi government may examine, the report said.
The court had earlier constituted the two members committee to visit the two five-star hotels to examine the feasibility of using them as extended Covid hospitals.
The high court was hearing separate petitions by the two hotels, challenging the Delhi government's decision to use them as extended Covid hospitals, saying it is not advisable due to the presence of air conditioning, lack of large lifts which are capable of being used for stretchers and other required measures.
Additional solicitor-general Sanjay Jain, representing the Delhi government, said the report submitted by the Committee is acceptable to the government and all steps indicated in it shall be taken by the authorities before putting the hotels into operation as Covid hospitals.
The counsel for the petitioner hotels also submitted that in view of the report, they do not press for any order of interim injunction against the authorities and would cooperate in the endeavour of the Delhi government.
They however, have expressed certain concerns regarding the compensation payable, timely payment, supply of PPE kits and staff availability.
The court, after taking on record the report, said The petitioners (hotels) shall be at liberty to file representation raising their concern in this regard with the Government of NCT of Delhi, which shall consider the same remaining uninfluenced by the pendency of the present petition and communicate its decision on the same to the petitioners within a period of four weeks of receipt of the said representation.
The court listed the matter for further hearing on July 29.
CHL Ltd-owned Hotel Surya (New Friends Colony) and Today Hotels Pvt Ltd-owned Hotel Crowne Plaza (Okhla) have challenged the Delhi government's May 29 and June 2 orders saying it is not advisable to use them as extended Covid hospitals due to the presence of air conditioning, lack of large lifts for stretchers, lack of bio-waste disposal as also of safeguards for the hotel's work force for providing services.
The Delhi government's Health Department has ordered that certain hotels, including Hotel Surya and Hotel Crowne Plaza, be requisitioned by the District Magistrate and be given to certain private hospitals for the purpose of converting them in to extended Covid Hospitals.
The hotels were directed to be requisitioned and handed over to the Indraprastha Apollo Hospital and Batra Hospital, respectively.
As per the orders, the government has also decided the rates payable by each patient on each night stay. The plea said the government has fixed the fees without consulting it.