Anger after India converts luxury hotel into COVID beds reserved for high court judges

Ross McGuinness
·2-min read
 A healthcare worker in personal protective equipment (PPE) attends to a Covid19 patient in the isolation ward.
A banquet hall temporarily converted to a Covid19 ward for coronavirus patients. India has recorded the highest single-day spike in coronavirus infection. The report recorded 352,991 new Covid-19 cases and 2,812 people deaths in the last 24 hours amid an oxygen crisis. (Photo by Naveen Sharma / SOPA Images/Sipa USA)
Healthcare workers attend to patients in a banquet hall temporarily converted to a COVID-19 ward in New Delhi, India. (PA)

There has been anger at a decision in India to convert a luxury hotel into a coronavirus health facility with beds reserved for high court judges.

Officials said 100 rooms at the Ashoka Hotel in New Delhi will be held for high court judges and their families.

The move sparked condemnation across the capital, where there is a shortage of hospital beds and oxygen after a huge surge in COVID-19 deaths and cases.

The city’s High Court made the request to turn the hotel into a health facility, which will be run by a hospital.

 Healthcare workers in personal protective equipment (PPE) walk in the Covid-19 isolation ward.
A banquet hall temporarily converted to a Covid19 ward for coronavirus patients. India has recorded the highest single-day spike in coronavirus infection. The report recorded 352,991 new Covid-19 cases and 2,812 people deaths in the last 24 hours amid an oxygen crisis. (Photo by Naveen Sharma / SOPA Images/Sipa USA)
India is in the grip of a COVID-19 crisis as cases rises amid a shortage of hospital beds and oxygen. (PA)

Jaiveer Shergill, a lawyer and spokesman for the main opposition Congress party, said: "For sake of justice, integrity and faith in the judicial system, Delhi's High Court must quash the order.”

Every third person in New Delhi tested for coronavirus has been found to be positive.

Hospitals have been forced to turn away patients because they do not have enough beds or oxygen to keep them alive. The city is reporting an average of one COVID-19 death every four minutes.

Judges have not been listed as frontline workers and most courts are operating virtually.

Watch: India receives first batch of UK-funded Covid aid

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

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

According to Our World In Data, based at the University of Oxford, India reported more than 330,000 daily coronavirus cases on Monday, based on the rolling seven-day average.

Daily COVID cases in India continue to rise. (Our World In Data)
Daily COVID cases in India continue to rise. (Our World In Data)

On Tuesday, the country saw 320,000 new cases and 2,771 reported deaths.

However, experts believe India’s worrying COVID-19 surge could be 20 times worse than feared. Our World In Data suggested last week that as little as 5% of actual cases there are being detected.

On Monday, World Health Organization (WHO) director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said the surge in cases in India was “beyond heartbreaking”.

The first of nine plane-loads from the UK of medical supplies, including ventilators and oxygen concentrators, arrived in New Delhi on Tuesday.

The Foreign Office said that the first shipment included 200 ventilators and 95 oxygen concentrators, which will be sent to Indian hospitals.

Further consignments are due to be dispatched later this week, including another 400 oxygen concentrators.

Watch: Biden Administration to Send Aid to India Amid Spike in COVID-19 Cases