Anger in Delhi over use of luxury hotel for judges and their families

As Delhi struggles for hospital beds, luxury hotel is reserved for high court judges

NEW DELHI: The authorities in Delhi ordered a luxury hotel to be converted into a Covid-19 health facility for the exclusive use of high court judges and their families, drawing outrage in a city that has no hospital beds or life-saving oxygen for hundreds of people.

The local government said on Monday night it had received a request from the Delhi High Court because of the rapid rise in coronavirus infections, and reserved 100 rooms at the Ashoka Hotel for the higher judiciary. A top city hospital will run the facility, it said.

Judges have not been listed as front-line workers and most courts are operating virtually.

"The Delhi high court would do well to decline the Ashoka Hotel offer, or cancel it if they ordered it themselves," said Mr Aakar Patel, a political commentator and former head of Amnesty International India.

"We cannot have open discrimination practised by those charged with preventing it."

India's coronavirus death toll neared the bleak milestone of 200,000, with another 2,771 fatalities reported yesterday.

Over the past 24 hours, India recorded 323,144 cases, slightly below a worldwide peak of 352,991 reached on Monday.

Vital medical supplies poured into the country yesterday as hospitals starved of life-saving oxygen and beds turned away patients.

A shipment from Britain, including 100 ventilators and 95 oxygen concentrators, arrived in Delhi, saidAsian News International. France is sending generators able to provide 250 patients with a year's worth of oxygen, its embassy said.

The first Oxygen Express train pulled intoDelhi with about 70,000kg of oxygen from an eastern state, but the crisis has not abated in the city of 20 million.

"For seven days, most of us haven't slept," said Dr K. Preetham, an administrator at the Indian Spinal Injuries Centre, adding that the shortage of oxygen was a crucial worry.

"Because of the scarcity, we are forced to put two patients on one cylinder," he said. - REUTERS