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Unfavourable environmental conditions led to spike in Covid cases: Gujarat govt tells HC

A reply affidavit submitted by Principal Pecretary, Health, Jayanti Ravi adds that as of December 18, 18.95 lakh antigen tests were conducted through Dhanvantari Rath or mobile OPD vans.

By: Express News Service | Ahmedabad | Updated: December 24, 2020 6:40:46 pm
A total of 42 government and 47 private laboratories across the state have permission to conduct RT-PCR tests. Express Photo: Partha Paul

Attributing the spike in Covid-19 cases after Diwali to “unfavourable environmental conditions and increased human interactions”, the Gujarat government has informed the High Court that several semi-government hospitals were instructed to increase capacity.

A reply affidavit submitted by Principal Secretary, Health, Jayanti Ravi, on Wednesday before the High Court on measures taken to check the surge in cases in the state after the festive season, stated that Deputy Chief Minister Nitin Patel, who also holds the health portfolio, had visited Ahmedabad Civil Hospital on November 16 with senior bureaucrats and had held a review meeting.

“He immediately gave instructions to increase the bed capacity at GMERS Sola (by 150 beds), Ahmedabad, Institute of Kidney Disease and Research Ahmedabad, Gujarat Cancer Research Institute, Ahmedabad (by 168 beds) and ESIC Ahmedabad (by 250 beds),” the affidavit stated.

For Ahmedabad city, 8,553 beds are available for Covid-19 patients in 128 government and private hospitals, which was 7,340 beds in 87 hospitals in November, the affidavit stated. However, in a later part of the affidavit, it was submitted that as of December 22, Ahmedabad city has 7,340 beds across 87 hospitals, of which 79 per cent was vacant.

As per the affidavit, there are 55,000 beds for Covid patients across 739 facilities. Across the 317 dedicated Covid hospitals in Gujarat, there are a total of 3,285 ventilators and 4,903 ICU beds. As per the health department, only 11 per cent beds were occupied across the state as of December 22.

Testing drops by 50 per cent

The affidavit adds that as of December 18, 18.95 lakh antigen tests were conducted through Dhanvantari Rath or mobile OPD vans. As per the state dashboard, a total of 91.85 lakh Covid-19 tests were conducted. However, it does not provide the number of RT-PCR tests and antigen tests.

On December 18, the Supreme Court, in a suo motu PIL regarding treatment of Covid-19 patients, directed to have “more and more testing”, while in Ravi’s affidavit, it appears that testing has dropped by 50 per cent in Gujarat from 5.18 lakh between November 20 and 26 in the week after Diwali to 2.73 lakh between December 18 and 22. A total of 42 government and 47 private laboratories across the state have permission to conduct RT-PCR tests.

The affidavit adds that AMC has tested over 5.3 lakh incoming passengers on highways, over 50,000 passengers to city from Kalupur railway station and over 10,000 possible super-spreaders in jewellery shops, dry fruit stores and grocery stores in the Diwali week. A total of over 2.5 lakh super-spreaders have been tested by AMC, it said and another 77,000 tests were conducted across 10,000 commercial buildings and offices in the city. This totals to nearly 9.07 lakh of demography-targeted testing in the city, of the total 22.90 lakh tests conducted in Ahmedabad district till date, which includes rural jurisdiction as well.

As per the affidavit, Rs 115 crore of fine has been collected from 23.64 lakh citizens across Gujarat for not wearing masks so far.
Contact tracing, containment zone

The state government claimed in the affidavit that as of December 22, an average of nearly 50 contacts are traced per positive case, of which an average of nearly seven are identified as high risk contacts. The affidavit also states that based on clustering of cases, containment zones are being declared and that at present, there are 20,000 micro-containment zones in the state. As per AMC daily bulletin, as of Wednesday the city has only 11 micro-containment zones.

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