The first case of Covid-19 in the state was reported in Rajkot on on March 19 when a man who returned from Umra pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia tested positive. Since then, it has seen a six-fold jump in cases in Rajkot city under the jurisdiction of the municipal corporation and 12-fold jump in Rajkot rural since the Unlock-1 began on June 1, with officials saying how it makes containment difficult.
By June 30, the total number of cases went up to 167. There was sharp rise this month when the cases crossed 200 on July 4 and doubled in the next 10 days. City added around 175 more cases in the subsequent four days, with total cases touching 574 on July 18.
“Till the time lockdown was in place, we would see cases mostly from one area — Jungleshwar. But with the easing of lockdown, people from Ahmedabad, Surat, etc., started coming to Rajkot. Unlock-1 meant that people didn’t require to remain in home quarantine after coming from such cities. So, cases shot up,” says Udit Agrawal, Rajkot municipal commissioner.
On July 8, 216 of the 250 beds in the dedicated Covid-19 Pandit Deendayal Upadhayay (PDU) General Hospital, formerly Rajkot civil hospital, were occupied.
Rajkot district touched 100 cases on June 29. The next 100 cases took only six days and subsequent century a week. Between July 13 and 18, Rajkot rural added around 100 more cases.
“With the beginning of Unlock-1, people started venturing out of their homes. Initially, we had people with travel history testing positive. In response, we increased testing. But local transmission continued and now close contacts of those who had travel history are spreading the infection. Despite surveillance and contact-tracing, a few undetected cases can lead to exponential growth in cases,” says Dr Mitesh Bhanderi, chief district health officer (CDHO) of Rajkot.
With the rise in cases, the authorities converted the general medicine ward in the civil hospital into an extension of the Covid-19 hospital recently, augmenting the capacity to 530 beds. Identified beds in private hospitals were also increased to 300 from 115. “We are identifying 170 more beds in private hospitals and setting up two hospitals in Jetpur and Gondal talukas with cumulative capacity of 160 beds,” Dr Bhanderi said.
To decrease the load on these dedicated hospitals, the administrations of city and districts have set up four Covid Care Centres (CCCs) having cumulative capacity of 875 beds, of which 64 were occupied as of July 18.
The municipal commissioner said the infection has now spread in almost all parts of the city. “We are doing micro-containment of areas from where cases are reported and tracing contacts of those testing positive, ensuring they are in home quarantine. Besides, 350 ASHA workers are surveying almost one lakh people every day of late and referring to our 50 Dhanvantari Raths those who need health screening. These Raths refer to our urban health centres (UHCs) those are assessed as suspected cases,” says Agrawal.
“At present, we are testing symptomatic and positive patients’ high risk contacts,” added the official.
While the cases have increased manifold, sample testing numbers have only doubled. By the end of May, 3,378 samples were tested from Rajkot city out of which 83 returned positive. These numbers stood at 6,594 and 575 respectively on July 18. Similarly, in Rajkot rural also, 1,679 samples were tested as of May 31 and number of cases were 32. The testing numbers jumped four times to 6,569 by July 18 and the number of confirmed cases also shot up to 395.
“We are testing an average of 200 to 300 samples every day but we have the capacity to test 400 samples. For disease surveillance, the third round of door-to-door survey is in progress. Besides, 50 Dhanvatari raths have also been deployed. Our primary and community health centres as well as private physicians and pediatricians are also acting as sentinel centres,” added Dr Bhanderi.
Local officers add that they are expecting the cases to peak in Au-gust and are making preparations.
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