March 18, 2021 6:12:00 am
IN VIEW of a spurt in Covid-19 cases, the Surat Municipal Corporation (SMC) on Wednesday issued a notification making seven-day home quarantine mandatory for people visiting the city from outside Gujarat.
The Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation (AMC) also suspended its city bus services indefinitely from Thursday morning, while both the civic bodies decided to close all parks, gardens, libraries, including Kankaria Lakefront, Kamla Nehru zoo in Ahmedabad, private-run and public gymnasiums and sports clubs along with other public recreation facilities from Thursday till further orders.
In Ahmedabad, the Sabarmati Riverfront, including Usmanpura garden, Riverfront Park near Subhash bridge, Flower Park near Ellis Bridge, Children’s Park near Dafnala and Biodiversity Park near Ambedkar Bridge will remain closed for public.
A statement issued by the AMC said the lower promenade of the riverfront, used by walkers and cyclists in the morning and evening, would also be closed.
The Surat civic body has also appealed to the self-financed, private, and grant-in-aid schools and colleges in the city to hold classes online, while allowing colleges and schools, where exams are going on, to complete the remaining papers offline but later resume online classes. Tuition and coaching centres have also been told to remain shut in the city till further instructions.
The state government, meanwhile, has re-assigned the four senior state secretaries charge of the four major cities — Ahmedabad, Surat, Rajkot and Vadodara — to take measures to control the spread of the virus and allowed vaccination centres to remain open till 9 pm to meet the renewed target of inoculating 3 lakh people daily, which is double the earlier target.
In a core committee meeting, the state government has also issued direction to increase testing centres and focus on contact tracing and containment zones. Until Wednesday, there were up to 3,146 containment zones, the government release stated.
Deputy Municipal Commissioner of AMC, Arjav Shah, said, “Due to rise in corona(virus) cases in Ahmedabad city, a decision has been taken to suspend AMTS (Ahmedabad Municipal Transport Service) and BRTS (Bus Rapid Transit System) from March 18 morning till further notice.”
On Wednesday, Gujarat reported a total of 1,122 coronavirus positive cases, which is as many as it recorded in mid-December last year. Of the total cases, 315 were reported from SMC and 264 cases from AMC limits on the day. Three deaths were also reported, one each from Surat, Ahmedabad and Vadodara, officials said.
M A Pandya, the mission director of National Health Mission (NHM) division of the health department, has attributed the surge to inter-state travel, especially from the neighbouring states, and the general complacency among the public. “There are multiple reasons behind the surge. One is due to movement (of people) from neighbouring states. Say, if there are 100 cases, upon contact tracing 30 per cent are seen with travel history or found to be in contact with someone with a travel history. There has also been a complacency among the people, especially with vaccine many are ignoring Covid-19-appropriate behaviour. Even when they wear the mask, it is not being done properly.”
Asked if the surge had anything to do with the recently concluded elections to the local bodies or the cricket match ongoing at the Motera stadium, Pandya said, “Any gathering, be it for festive season, marriages, eating out, or say even in various transportation modes… people became complacent… The Covid-19-appropriate behaviour has to be followed throughout. We are hoping to bring the situation under control within the next three to four weeks.”
Earlier, the SMC had directed people working in textile and diamond industries in the city to get themselves tested for the infection once a week. Surat medical health officer Dr Pradeep Umrigar said, “As per a fresh notification Wednesday, people who are coming to Surat from other states will have to remain under home quarantine for 7 days, and during this period, they have to take steps to isolate themselves and avoid coming in contact with other members of the house. During the isolation period, if they experience any symptoms of the infection, they should immediately get tested for Covid-19.”
The notification states that people who don’t follow notification will be “strictly and legally charged under Indian Penal Code section 188 for disobedience to order duly promulgated by a public servant, and provisions of the Epidemic Diseases Act and the Disaster Management Act”.
The Federation of Surat Textile Traders Association (FOSTTA), meanwhile, has expressed apprehension that such stringent measures would affect businesses. Association’s president Manoj Agrawal said, “On Tuesday, we meet Surat Municipal Commissioner B N Pani and agreed to first test (for Covid-19) those coming from other states to Surat to place orders for sarees and dress materials before allowing them to enter the markets. Today, another notification has been issued direction any outsider (people from other states) coming to Surat to remain under home quarantine for seven days. This is not acceptable. Our business will go down. A textile trader will not stay in the hotel for seven days (under quarantine) and will instead abandon plans to visit Surat. We will make representation to the municipal commissioner Thursday and request him to withdraw the notification.”
There are 170 textile markets, comprising 65,000 textile trading shops, in Surat city that employees over lakhs of people. The daily turnover of the textile fabrics business is around Rs 200 crore.
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