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Migrant workers are returning, industries have resumed work, Gujarat CM Vijay Rupani says

In an exclusive interview to ThePrint, CM Rupani explained that Gujarat's high fatality rate is because the state is 'transparent' on Covid death figures.

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Gandhinagar: Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani has claimed that migrant workers have started returning to the state, with the current power utility and consumption records confirming that industries have resumed operations. 

“All industries in Gujarat have started and the power utility and consumption is a testament to that. How much ever was being used earlier, it is the same now, which means that the industries have started,” Rupani told ThePrint in an exclusive interview.  

Asserting that the most number of migrant labourers left from Gujarat during the exodus after the nationwide lockdown was announced, Rupani said, “This means two things, one that it showcases Gujarat is providing daily income (rozi roti) to many labourers. Second, there is a great possibility of getting an income in the state.”

He said over 1,000 trains and 5,000 buses had left the states with migrants during the lockdown. “We respectfully dropped them to their villages.” 

On Gujarat’s high mortality rate due to Covid-19 and viral load, the chief minister claimed that the state had recorded a viral strain that was more fatal. 

“Doctors in Gujarat have said that the strain in our state is different. The more fatal one is recorded in Gujarat,” he said.

Gujarat’s Principal Secretary, Health, Jayanti Ravi had also claimed that information gathered by scientists had revealed that a different strain of virus was behind the state’s slower recovery rate. 

The state’s claims, however, are not in line with expert view on Covid-19 and its different strains. 

“It will take some time for us to know the predominant quasi species of the novel coronavirus in the country,” ICMR’s Head of Epidemiology and Communicable Diseases, Dr Raman R. Ganghakhedkar, who retired recently, had said. “But mutations are not likely to make potential vaccines ineffective, as all subtypes of the virus have the same enzymes. Also, it has been in India for three months and it does not mutate very fast.”

Rupani claims Gujarat has been hit by a more fatal strain of Covid-19 | Photo: Praveen Jain | ThePrint
Rupani claims Gujarat has been hit by a more fatal strain of Covid-19 | Photo: Praveen Jain | ThePrint

Covid-19 ‘under control’

Apart from recording the highest fatality rate in the country, Gujarat has also been under the scanner for low testing and rising infections. 

Rupani, however, said the situation is under control.  

“Today, we have 19,000 hospital beds, 11,000 active cases and 50,000 cumulative cases. The situation is under control,” he said.

“I would also like to add that the way media is saying that patients aren’t finding any beds in the hospitals or that there is a lack of doctors, medicines, ventilators, injections etc, I can say with surety that this is the 18th week in Gujarat’s fight against coronavirus and till today we haven’t received such a complaint,” the chief minister added. 

On the ‘Gujarat Model’ for handling coronavirus, Rupani said the state has decided to make a dedicated 1,200-bed Covid-19 facility in Ahmedabad, a 250-bed facility in Surat, Vadodara and Rajkot, and 100-bed premises in each district. “We also told the Supreme Court that on the basis of the Gujarat Model, every state should make an arrangement that cooperates with private hospitals,” he added. 

Rupani also claimed that the Supreme Court hailed this model and recommended it to the other states. He also shed some light on a “unique intervention” that the Gujarat government has come up with, called the Dhanmantri Rath. 

“These are 1,040 raths that consist of doctors, medicines, oxygen pulse meters, testing support etc. These are used in conjunction with Aarogya Setu (app) and we can start the treatment from the spot itself,” he said.  


According to the chief minister, the situation is under control in the state | Photo: Praveen Jain | ThePrint
According to the chief minister, the situation is under control in the state | Photo: Praveen Jain | ThePrint

‘Haven’t hidden data’

Gujarat’s mortality rate of 4.38 per cent is the highest in the country — the nation’s average is 2.49 per cent. The chief minister, however, said the figures are high because the state has been “transparent”. 

“We haven’t hidden any data. Whichever patients came to us, if he is a cancer patient but tests Covid positive, even then we put it as a Covid death,” he said. 

“Deaths that happened due to comorbidities or Covid-19. In some cases, patients were so serious when they came from home that they expired even before they could get tested. We have recorded those as Covid deaths as well,” he said. 

“There was a time when Maharashtra was at number 1 and Gujarat was at number 2 in terms of mortality. But now, because of different criteria, Gujarat is on number 9,” Rupani explained.

Asked about state’s most common comorbidity, diabetes, and whether it warrants a change in Gujarati lifestyle, Rupani said, “There has now been an increase in awareness in people. Now, they are opting for Yoga, asanas, jogging, gym etc.”

He added, “You’re correct to say that ours is a vyapaari (business-oriented) state, so diabetes and hypertension patients are more. There were cases of comorbidities which meant lots of people were affected.”  

Also read: Gujarat doubles daily Covid tests as alarm bells ring after central govt team visit


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