January 6, 2022 6:36:43 am
Principal secretary of urban development and urban housing department Mukesh Kumar was given the extra charge of additional chief secretary (ACS) of health department on Wednesday after five IAS officers, including ACS health Manoj Aggarwal and health commissioner Jai Prakash Shivahare, minister of state Jitubhai Chaudhary and Navsari BJP
MLA Piyush Desai tested positive for Covid-19.
The officials got the infection just before the Vibrant Gujarat Global Summit (VGGS) that is scheduled to be held from January 10.
Ahmedabad city, where the weekly test positivity rate (TPR) has crossed nine per cent — the highest in the state, has introduced several curbs even as the state on Wednesday reported 3,350 fresh Covid cases, one death in Amreli and 50 Omicron cases — the highest single-day surge so far, taking the tally of the variant to 204.
Chief secretary Pankaj Kumar chaired a virtual meeting with top officials of municipal corporations and districts to discuss the Covid situation and provide guidance, that was also attended by Mukesh Kumar, according to a press release from the state government.
IAS officials infected with Covid also include JP Gupta, principal secretary in finance department, Rajkumar Beniwal, commissioner of municipalities, and Hareet Shukla, chief executive officer of Dholera SIR and tourism secretary.
The state government has also ordered more officials to undergo Covid tests and has also restricted entry to the chief minister’s office (CMO) in Gandhinagar to only those with Covid vaccination certificates. The government has already instructed all staff members and officials to get their second dose of vaccination.
Minister of state for water resources and water supply Jitubhai Chaudhary tested positive at a Rapid Antigen Tests drive in Gandhinagar on Wednesday.
Chaudhary told The Indian Express, “On Tuesday night, I had throat infection, cough and cold, and I am in home isolation. My RT-PCR report will come Thursday morning. I did not visit office today and will be at my official address for a few more days.”
Navsari MLA Piyush Desai tested positive after he got symptoms and is in home isolation. Navsari district on Wednesday reported 41 cases, of which 16 are students. BJP MLA from Kaprada in Valsad also underwent an RT-PCR test and the report is awaited.
In view of a sharp spike in Covid cases in Ahmedabad city, the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation (AMC) on Wednesday notified that AMTS and BRTS buses will be permitted to operate only with 50 per cent capacity from January 6. To ensure that the guideline is followed, the AMC will depute teams as well as vigilance teams at various spots in the city.
Science City in Ahmedabad announced that among those aged above 18 years, only fully vaccinated individuals will be permitted entry while for those aged 15 to 18 years, only those who have taken the first dose of the vaccine will be allowed to enter.
The AMC also notified that residential scieties, flats and complexes have to appoint a Covid-19 coordinator, who would be responsible for ensuring that residents are vaccinated, ensure cooperation with AMC teams for testing and tracking exercises, and shall also ensure that norms of micro-containment zones are followed. AMC added 23 new micro-conatinment zones, taking the number of such zones to 86 in the city.
While the AMC has decided to go ahead with its Flower Show 2022 at the Sabarmati Riverfront from January 8 to 23, Congress councillor from Chandkheda at AMC, Rajshri Kesari, moved a public interest litigation before the Gujarat HC on Wednesday seeking that the court quash the resolution passed by the Standing Committee permitting the event. Kesari submitted that with 400 persons permitted entry per hour and the show being open for 11 hours in a day, the event will only add to the surge of Covid-19 cases in the city.
With ongoing political and cultural events as well as the upcoming Vibrant Gujarat summit, doctors have warned of a major surge. Dr Maharshi Desai, critical care specialist at Apollo Hospitals, Ahmedabad, and a member of the Gujarat State Covid Taskforce, said in a press release that it would not be surprising if the daily surge in cases surpasses the figures clocked during the peak of the second wave of the pandemic caused by the Delta variant.
“We are expecting a major hike in cases in the next 15 days. I would not be surprised if the daily count of new Covid cases during the third wave surpasses the figures registered during the peak of the second wave,” Dr Desai said. He added that the infectivity of the Omicron variant is significantly more than the Delta variant, which itself was highly infectious.
Adding that Omicron is not less virulent than Delta, Desai said, “What has happened is that the community developed some immunity against the coronavirus due to prior exposure and large scale immunisation. However, people who are yet to take vaccines, as well as those with comorbidities, are at risk.” He said widespread infection due to the Omicron variant can snowball into major trouble for India due to its massive population.
Apart from Ahmedabad, Rajkot city reported a near five-fold jump in cases — from 36 cases on January 4 to 141 cases on January 5 — and the district with city and rural limits combined saw a three-fold jump in cases (159) from that reported a day ago (57).
Vadodara too doubled its new infections in a day – from 94 cases on January 4 to 181 on January 5.
Districts of Surat, Anand, Kheda along with Ahmedabad, Rajkot and Vadodara comprise 86 per cent of the state’s new infections on Wednesday and with 72,918 tests conducted a day ago across the state, the overall TPR stands at 4.5 per cent.
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