In a turn of trend within a month in Ahmedabad, the caseload of coronavirus patients has shifted from the walled city of Old Ahmedabad in the central zone, which was under strict containment, to the posh West Ahmedabad.
On June 20, the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation (AMC) announced containment zones in the West zone that has 678 active cases, facing protests from the residents. The same day, walled city was freed of containment.
As on Wednesday, the West Zone had the highest case load in the city accounting for 21.8 per cent, while the central zone had the lowest Covid-19 case share at 6.8 per cent with 213 active cases, according to the AMC website.
On May 7, nearly 10 days after the AMC declared red zones, the walled city areas (wards of Jamalpur, Shahpur, Dariapur and Khadia) reported 1,587 cases out of total 4,649 from all 48 wards of the city, which was 64 per cent of the total cases and 52 per cent of the 10 red zones.
Since then, the AMC changed its strategy for containment. Instead of locking out entire wards barricading them with tin sheets and placing a police picket outside, the civic body decided to micro-contain only those houses or apartments with Covid-19 cases.
Two residential apartments in the western part of the city — Sachin Tower in Vejalpur ward’s Jodhpur area and Galaxy Apartments in Bodakdev ward — listed as micro containment zones on June 20 complained to the AMC about the “stigma” on account of the list on the AMC website. However, the containment, unlike the walled city, is just a cloth tied to the partially-opened entry gates and held back by plastic bins.
AMC deputy municipal commissioner of South West zone, GH Solanki, said, “The residents of Sachin Tower were not aware of the guidleines of micro-containment zones initially and they objected. They complained that they were being targeted on social media. But after officials met them and made them understand, they agreed to abide by the norms.”
Prithvirajsinh Zala, assistant municipal commissioner of South West zone for Sarkhej and Jodhpur ward, who met the residents, told The Indian Express, “Not everyone knows about containment guidelines. I convinced them that if the society is not contained, it can become a hotpsot. They are doing well now.”
Rajeshbhai Thakor, councillor of Vejalpur ward that covers Sachin Tower, has decided to address his constituency’s issue and sort it out with municipal officials.
The apartments with 350 houses and nearly 1,225 residents complained that the society was put under containment though there were only a “few cases”. “There were only four cases but we were declared as micro containment zone. There were fake messages on social media targeting us, and we complained to the AMC,” said one of the residents of the apartment, on condition of anonymity.
AMC officials said Sachin Tower has nearly a dozen Covid-19 cases, some who have been discharged. “An Auxilliary Nurse Midwife (ANM) who surveyed the (Sachin Tower) residential society and a domestic help working there tested positive. As most of the domestic helps in the area reside in the nearby slums, there was a fear of the infection spreading in the slums,” said Solanki.
The new containment list covers the highest population — nearly 2,550 — from 12 residential areas of the West zone, some high concentration areas being Naranpura, Sabarmati, Chandkheda, Sardar Patel Stadium, Ranip and Nava Vadaj.
Kantibhai Patel, councillor of Bodakdev ward, under which Galaxy Apartments falls, said, “The society had 10 cases in the past two weeks. So, it has to be declared containment zone… They called me objecting the decision but I told them it has to be done for their safety.”
Claiming that the strategy is very effective, Solanki said, “Shreenand Nagar in Vejalpur with 864 houses and 4,500 population was under containment for two weeks and now only one block is under containment with a population of 140 and 36 houses.”
Imran Khedawala, Jamalpur ward councillor and MLA of Jamalpur Khadia, one of the worst affected areas initially, who also tested positive for Covid-19 on April 14, says, “When Jamalpur and other walled city areas were under containment, the entire area was sealed with barricades and metal sheets. When I was tested positive, the entire area was sealed and residents were not even allowed to go out for essentials. That is not the case now. We were watched under 24 hour police vigil, while there is no police deployment outside micro containment zones now.
The rules seem different for residents in the western parts of the city,” says Khedawala. The strict containment in the walled city was also due to residents from there being part of the Tabligi Jamaat congregation at Nizamuddin, which became a hotspot.
The Central zone reported over 3,905 positive cases and the highest number of deaths at 352.
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