Coronavirus | Gujarat grappling with second wave

Major cities are worst affected; fears over under-reported data, inadequate hospital beds.

April 04, 2021 04:41 am | Updated 04:41 am IST - AHMEDABAD

Gujarat’s COVID-19 situation is worsening with a sharp rise in new infections and mortality as the State is in midst of the second wave of the global pandemic. The State on Saturday recorded 2,815 new infections, its highest single day case count since the COVID-19 outbreak in March 2020, and 13 deaths, again the highest death count in the last 110 days.

The worst affected are the major cities — Ahmedabad, Surat, Vadodara and Rajkot — where two-thirds of the State’s total cases are coming up. In fact, with a rapid surge in cases, the fatality figures being provided by the State health authorities appear highly under-reported in contrast to the figures cited by independent sources, local media and others.

For example, in Vadodara, according to local media reports, more than 50 dead bodies were cremated/buried as per COVID-19 guidelines and protocol but the State Health Department’s bulletin showed just one death in Vadodara on Friday.

A local Congress leader from Vadodara city told mediapersons that, daily, 1,200-1,500 new cases and 75-100 deaths are happening in the city but the local authorities were “under-reporting both and fudging the data”.

Similarly in Rajkot, against the reported deaths of 12-15 persons daily, the Health Department’s bulletin issued every evening declares one or two deaths.

“The State Health Department authorities are playing with the lives of people of the State. The government should do away with the death committee, which determines the cause of death in every major hospital, and bring out the real numbers,” a leading infectious diseases expert in Ahmedabad told The Hindu .

In the four main cities, most of the COVID-19 beds have been filled up and additional beds are required as the demand for normal as well as ICU beds has jumped significantly in the last 5-6 days. In Ahmedabad, more than 50% of the total ICU beds created for COVID-19 persons are occupied.

“In Ahmedabad, out of a total 3,500 COVID-19 beds in 70 private hospitals, nearly 80% are occupied so we will have to create more beds while adding other hospitals,” said Dr. Bharat Gadhavi, president of the Ahmedabad Hospitals and Nursing Homes Association.

According to him, the scenario will remain challenging for next two weeks as people had become “completely careless, not maintaining proper distance and hand hygiene and not wearing masks”.

As on Saturday, the State’s total active cases stood at 14,298, out of which 161 were on ventilator support. However, on the ground, there appears to be a shortage of ventilators as a former legislator of Navsari, Laxman Patel, was not able to find a bed with ventilator support in Surat and was referred to a neighbouring district.

Gujarat’s Deputy CM Nitin Patel, who handles the Health portfolio, on Saturday rushed to Vadodara to take stock of the situation, and admitted that cases had increased manifold in the second wave.

Meanwhile, with cases soaring, government authorities are taking additional measures to contain further spread of the virus and bring the situation under control. On Saturday evening, Gujarat CM Vijay Rupani directed authorities to indefinitely shut down school classes for Class I to IX across the State.

State Director General of Police (DGP) Ashish Bhatia directed all district Superintendents of Police and Police Commissioners to strictly enforce COVID-19 protocols of mask wearing in a special drive across the State. “Those found not wearing masks will have to pay ₹1000 fine,” a press release issued by the State DGP’s office stated.

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