A war of words broke out on social media between Chief Minister Vijay Rupani and Congress leader Ahmed Patel when the latter took to Twitter to question the Gujarat government on the reduced testing, on Saturday.
Rupani also took to Twitter to rebut the claim and said that testing per million was up to the mark. Within minutes of this exchange, the state machinery announced a targeted action plan for intense testing focussed in the 10 wards in Ahmedabad which have been declared as containment zones.
At around noon, Ahmed Patel tweeted, “Why is Gujarat government reducing testing? This is very disturbing & is contrary to national policy of increasing tests. In a pandemic, it is important to be honest about the problem rather than trying to conceal it.”
To support his argument, Patel also attached a line graph representing the decline with the daily numbers of samples taken for testing in Ahmedabad starting May 1 when the graph showed 2,592 samples taken in Ahmedabad, and up to May 14, when 1,240 samples were tested.
Hours later Rupani responded to the tweet denying any such decline, and said, “Mr Ahmed Patel, Gujarat has not at all decreased number of tests. Kindly recheck your information sources which are far away from facts and ground realities.” Attached was a screenshot of an excel sheet representing cumulative tests in Ahmedabad, Vadodara, Surat, Gujarat and India along with the tests per million for the five, as on May 16.
While on Friday, principal secretary, health and family welfare, Jayanti Ravi, had justified the halt in testing of asymptomatic persons on the ground that with increasing number of cases in the state, the focus on testing has to have a more equitable distribution, the CM decision taken at the daily meeting that he chairs, appeared to deviate from this school of thought, as it declared greater focus on the containment zones.
Rupani, in a video conference with Ahmedabad mayor, standing committee chairman, Leader of the ruling party, OSD for AMC Rajiv Gupta, municipal commissioner in charge Mukesh Kumar and all the deputy municipal commissioners, directed them to actively move towards ‘containment-free zone-Corona-free ward’.
As per the new focused plan, intensive health check-ups will be undertaken at 160 locations across the six wards in the central zone, two in south zone and one each in east zone and north zone through 40 mobile medical vans.
According to a press release, these teams would go to the containment zone continuously “so that people with common ailments also get treatment and care at home as well as rapid testing-health check of Covid-19 suspects will be done”.
The mobile medical van with a team comprising allopathic doctors, an AYUSH doctor, lab technicians, pharmacists and paramedical staff will be deployed at four points for 2 hours for next 15 days. The van will focus on testing as well as treating people with common cold and fever symptoms. Homeopathic medicines, immunity-boosting ayurvedic medicines will also be distributed.
Atul Gor, chief executive authority at AUDA, will be overseeing this operation.
Continuing the spar on social media, Patel rebutted Rupani’s tweet, saying, “Mr CM, 1)Gujarati culture doesn’t permit me to use the tone you have used 2) My source is ur (sic) govt data:gujcovid19.gujarat.gov.in Either u or ur govt is wrong, someone must resign? 3)Stop hiding behind no of cumulative tests, how many tests have been conducted per day in last 15 days?” Attached was a chart showing daily samples taken across Gujarat from May 3 until May 14.
Notably, Gujarat has taken the lowest samples in a 24-hour cycle in a month on May 14 with just 2,412 samples.
As of May 16, a cumulative total of 1,38,407 samples have been taken across the state, including 6,587 samples specifically of superspreaders taken over a span of a week from Ahmedabad.
In a live press conference, INC spokesperson Shaktisinh Gohil questioned the state’s ruling political cadre on several aspects, including ”discrepancies in statistics released by the AMC and that by the health department of the state government, and the high mortality rate in the state, while also accusing the Gujarat BJP of “running away from the truth”.
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