New Delhi: In the week since Diwali, Ahmedabad in Gujarat has been witnessing an increase in coronavirus cases, prompting the administration to announce a weekend-long curfew — from Friday to Monday, besides an indefinite night curfew.
The city administration Friday announced that a weekend curfew was being imposed from Friday 9 pm till Monday 6 am. While this curfew is only for this weekend, a night curfew is being imposed indefinitely — from 9 pm to 6 am everyday.
On Thursday, the city recorded 246 cases of Covid-19 — the highest ever reported since 22 June, which saw 314 cases. For the seventh consecutive day until 19 November, the city recorded more than 200 cases daily.
Doctors said the city is experiencing its “second Covid wave”.
Officials of Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation, along with doctors, blamed the festive season for the surge. They said people in the city went on a shopping spree before Diwali, breaking all coronavirus guidelines.
According to the city’s Covid-19 bulletin Friday, 42,753 cases have been recorded so far, out of which 2,845 cases are still active. As many as 38,011 people in Ahmedabad have recovered from the virus while 1,897 people have died.
Most of the cases reported in the last one week have been reported from western parts of the city.
On Thursday, the highest number of cases were recorded from the north-west zone (477), followed by south-west zone (452), the west zone (446) and central zone (274).
The city has conducted 18,77,233 tests till 19 November. On Thursday, 12,157 samples were tested.
Testing in the city has increased substantially in the last one month. Till 19 November, the city tested 18,77,233 total samples, an increase from 14,93,722 samples tested till 19 October.
‘It’s like people forgot about coronavirus threat‘
Doctors across the city said people not abiding by coronavirus guidelines was the major reason behind the surge in infections.
Dr Chandresh Jardosh, president of the Indian Medical Association in Gujarat, told ThePrint: “Right before Diwali, everyone went on a shopping spree, which has led to an increase in infections. No one followed social distancing; it’s like people forgot about the threat of coronavirus.”
“The city is experiencing its second Covid wave, which will be more virulent than the first one,” he added.
While Dr Jardosh praised the government’s decision to not open schools in the city, he said the current surge in infections could have been prevented if the government had declared strict Standard Operating Procedures before Diwali and Navratri.
Some experts also blamed the cold weather for the rise in infections.
Dr Mona Desai, president, Ahmedabad Medical Association, explained: “Apart from breaking guidelines during festivities, colder weather is also responsible for increase in infections.”
She added that people have become more aware of the infection and are getting tested immediately in case of any symptoms: “Even if there’s a slight fever or a cough during winters, people go get tested. So, we are able to catch it at an earlier stage.”
On Friday, Rajeev Gupta, additional chief secretary, announced an indefinite night curfew in Ahmedabad. He also revealed that the city will go under “complete curfew” from Friday to Monday morning.
In a video message, Gupta said: “After reviewing Corona situation late night, it has been decided that ‘complete curfew’ shall be imposed from Friday 9 pm till Monday 6 am in Ahmedabad city. During this period, only shops selling milk and medicines shall be permitted to remain open.”
ThePrint reached Gupta through multiple texts and phone calls, but there was no response till the publication of this report.
Asked about how the city is containing the rise in infections, Dilip Kumar Rana, deputy municipal commissioner of Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation, told ThePrint: “We are containing it the way we were (doing it) before. Our Dhanvantri Raths, helplines and surveillance are still running. A curfew has also been imposed.”
Dhanvantri Raths are vans that have been converted into mobile clinics to conduct Covid tests across the city. A 24×7 helpline, which Rana oversees, helps citizens who are symptomatic to get tested from the comfort of their homes.
‘No shortage of beds’
While Dr Jardosh said Ahmedabad is facing a shortage of beds given the increasing number of cases, government officials said they have enough beds to deal with the Covid surge.
The biggest government hospital in the city, Ahmedabad Civil Hospital, said they have more than enough beds for Covid patients.
Dr Rajnish Patel, additional medical superintendent at the hospital, said: “There is no shortage of beds. There are 7,000 beds in this hospital, out of which only 780 are occupied.”
Dr Patel also revealed that in order to prepare for the surge in infections, the hospital has arranged an additional 250 oxygen beds and 600 normal beds.
Further, Deputy Municipal Commissioner Rana said, “There is no shortage of beds. In fact, we call patients who are more than 60 years old to come and seek treatment in our hospitals.”
According to civic body officials, 2,237 beds were vacant in government hospitals as of Thursday, while 400 beds were available in private health facilities.
The government has also sanctioned 1,300 more hospital beds for Covid patients to prepare for a further increase in infections.
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