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Rising Omicron cases in Gujarat: CM holds high-level meet, night curfews in eight cities

Of the total 23 Omicron variant cases detected in the state till date, four patients have been discharged, pegging the number of active cases at 19.

By: Express News Service | Ahmedabad |
Updated: December 23, 2021 4:09:59 pm
Gujarat Omicron Coronavirus, Gujarat Omicron Coronavirus RulesVadodara city reported four new Omicron cases on Friday, taking the total tally of the variant in the district to 14.

Gujarat Chief Minister Bhupendra Patel on Thursday held a high-level meeting to review the situation of Covid-19 in the state in light of the Omicron variant of the virus circulating in the state.

The meeting comes on the back of Gujarat reporting 91 Covid-19 cases on Wednesday, and nine infections of Omicron variant, which is the highest in a single day. Of the total 23 Omicron variant cases detected in the state till date, four patients have been discharged, pegging the number of active cases at 19. The Omicron infected are mostly with travel history, from Tanzania, Zimbabwe, The United Kingdom, Dubai and Congo. The state currently has 637 active cases of Covid-19, with most of these cases in Ahmedabad (173) followed by Vadodara (104). Ahmedabad has a current test positivity rate of one percent, the highest among the 33 districts in the state.

Apart from Christmas and New Year celebrations, the state is due to host two major events — the Vibrant Gujarat Global Summit in January and the Defence Expo in March.

The meeting was attended by Gujarat health minister Rushikesh Patel and minister of state for health Nimisha Suthar, chief secretary to the chief minister K Kailashnathan, chief secretary Pankaj Kumar, additional chief secretary of home department Raj Kumar, additional chief secretary of health department Manoj Aggarwal, health commissioner Jai Prakash Shivhare, and other state officials. According to a government release, arrangements for testing and contact tracing of tourists arriving in Gujarat from foreign countries were reviewed. So far, 85 per cent of the state’s eligible population is fully vaccinated. CM Patel had convened a high-level committee meeting with state officials, last on December 4 after the first Omicron variant case in a 72-year old Zimbabwe-based NRI man in Jamnagar was confirmed.

SOP FOR INTERNATIONAL ARRIVALS

At present, protocol requires RT-PCR testing on arrival of international passengers arriving from the 11 ‘at-risk’ countries and regions as notified by the Centre.

Apart from passengers arriving in Gujarat from at-risk countries, the Gujarat government is also randomly testing two percent of other international arrivals, for surveillance purposes. All international arrivals are required to quarantine at home for seven days following which respective local authorities will test for COVID-19 on the eighth day. If negative, passengers are advised to continue their quarantine for another seven days.

Meanwhile, Gujarat Biotechnology research Centre (GBRC) is conducting genome sequencing with samples with international travel history being sequenced, on priority. To fast track the process of whole genome sequencing which may take up to seven days, GBRC has deployed a PCR method to determine if a sample has the Omicron variant. The method can detect the variant in eight hours and if the PCR method result is in the affirmative, the sample is then sent for whole genome sequencing as a confirmatory exercise. With vaccination not permitted in those aged less than 18 years, schools are seeing a case burden in the state, compelling authorities to adopt various measures.

STUDENT SAFETY

The state government on Wednesday also decided to postpone the annual examinations of Class 9 and 11 as well as preparatory prelim exams of Class 10 and 12, and two board exams in the coming year, “in the best interest of students.”

The Gujarat Secondary and Higher Secondary Education Board (GSHSEB) has directed all schools affiliated to the board to postpone examinations and alter the dates for the summer vacations and the upcoming academic session. The new academic session will begin on June 13, 2022 instead of June 6. Class 10 and 12 board exams have been postponed by two weeks — earlier scheduled from March 14 to 30, 2022, now will be held from March 28 to April 12, 2022 — and final exams for class 9 and 11 have been delayed by 10 days, to be held from April 11 to April 21, 2022.

Summer vacations earlier scheduled from May 2 to June 5, 2022, will now see the summer break from May 9 to June 12, 2022.

In Vadodara, offline classes for a batch in Shaishav School were suspended after a class 12 student tested positive for COVID19. This is the fourth school student testing positive since December 12. According to the Vadodara Municipal Corporation epidemiologist Dr Piyush Patel, of the four students, three were regularly attending schools. VMC has directed schools to suspend physical classes of the particular batch in schools where students test positive, and also to test the close contacts of students testing COVID19 positive. Such suspension of physical classes will be in force for seven days.

CELEBRATION DIKTAT

Ahmedabad city police issued a notification under CrPC section 144 allowing a 35-minute window for bursting of firecrackers in the city on the occasion of Christmas and New Year celebrations. The permitted timings are 11:55 pm of December 24 to 12:30 am of DEcember 25, and 11:55 pm of December 31 to 12:30 am of January 1, 2022. Night curfew timings in eight cities of Gujarat — Ahmedabad, Vadodara, Surat, Rajkot, Bhavnagar, Gandhinagar, Jamnagar and Junagadh — are from 1 am to 5 am, effective until December 31.

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