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Wednesday, October 28, 2020

A look into some of Gujarat’s contained neighbourhoods

Across cities in Gujarat, the local authorities have declared 22 areas as containment zones, cut off from the rest of the world to contain the spread of coronavirus. All the hotspots together make up for more than 98,400 households, according to the state government as of Sunday morning.

Written by Gopal Kateshiya, Kamaal Saiyed, Sohini Ghosh , Aditi Raja , Aishwarya Mohanty | April 13, 2020 1:22:35 am
coronavirus, coronavirus in gujarat, coronavirus cases in gujarat, coronavirus hotspots in gujarat, sealed places in gujarat, gujarat coronavirus contaminated zones, indian express news Police guard a barricaded area in Nagarwada, Vadodara. (Photo by Bhupendra Rana)


Sandhiyavad, Vadva-Sidivad

Why: 21 cases were traced to 70-year-old Haji Abdul Karim Sheikh who attended the Nizamuddin Markaz in Delhi and died on March 26.


Approximate population contained

Total cases: 23

Sheikh was a resident of Karchaliyapara and COVID-19 cases have been steadily rising since his death. Bhavnagar district development officer Varun Kumar Baranwal confirmed that source of infection in 21 of them could be traced back to Sheikh. Initially, the district administration and Bhavnagar Municipal Corporation put residents of Karchaliyapara in home quarantine. But as the number of cases shot up in Sandhiyavad and Vadva-Sidivad areas in Bhavnagar city, the twin localities were identified as clusters and were sealed early to contain the spread of the viral infection. The Sandhiyavad cluster includes Kanbivad, Karchaliyapara and Bhilwada Circle.

Sandhiyavad is also where the main meat market of Bhavnagar city is located that has been closed since the infection spread. Both are middle and lower middle class localities.
“We have decided not to allow anybody from these clusters to move out of their locality. We have put in place a system to supply them daily essential items and we are strengthening it,” says Bhavnagar Collector Gaurang Makwana.

Now, Barton Library crossroads is the only entry point to Sandhiyavad cluster. Entry to Vadva-Sidivad is through Vasanghat and Kachhiyavad no Chabutaro. “Till Thursday, we were allowing retailers to go out to purchase stock. But now we are acting as a link between retailers and whole-sellers. We have directed wholesalers to deliver goods ordered by retailers inside the clusters at entry points. Other than police and health department staff, no one is allowed to move in or out of these clusters now,” says Bhumika Koriya, district supply officer of Bhavnagar who oversees the supply of daily essentials.



Why: Half of the total cases of the district are from here


Approximate population contained

Total cases: 18

The first positive case of COVID-19 in Gujarat was reported from here on March 18 when businessman Nadim Sevingya who returned from Saudi Arabia and lives in the Leuva Patel Society of Jungleshwar, a locality of lower middle class and working class people, tested positive.

Sevingya was discharged after recovering on April 2, with which cluster containment of around 450 residents of Leuva Patel Society also ended. However, Altaf Patani, a casual labourer residing in Street No. 27, a few hundred metres away from the society, tested positive on April 7. He didn’t have any travel history. Over the next three days, seven of his close contacts also tested positive for the viral infection, prompting Rajkot district administration and Rajkot Municipal Corporation to treat Jungleshwar Street No. 26 to 31 as a new cluster of the disease.

Restrictions were put in place from April 7 night and by Friday evening, around 1,000 people living in Street No. 27 to 31 of the locality were put in containment zone with the area having been sealed by blocking streets with steel plates.

Till Friday, only those retailing ration, vegetables, milk, medicines, etc., were allowed to come out to purchase stocks. However, Leuva Society was sealed completely and the state government was supplying ration and other items through one entry gate.

“At that time, the city was not under lockdown so we had take to care of the people in the containment zone. Now, entire nation is under lockdown and therefore, that type of system is not required. As of now, people have enough ration. We have identified a few families who may require support in the coming days and we shall do as required,” said Chetan Nandani, deputy municipal commissioner of Rajkot.
Majority residents of this locality earn their living by doing casual work, driving autorickshaws and working as domestic helps. The Pranami Chowk Urban Health and Wellness Centre of RMC is located within one kilometre of the containment zone.



Why: Around 35 % of Surat’s cases are from here. Second case of 67-year-old man with no travel history triggered local transmisison fear.


Approximate population contained

Total cases: 28

Rander town is historically older than Surat city and located on the banks of the Tapi river. Many of the residents have their relatives settled in the US, UK and Canada.

The first case here was of a 23-year-old man who visited Sri Lanka and Dubai and was admitted in the New Civil Hospital. He was discharged on April 5. However, the second case of a 67-year-old man running laundry shop in the area who continues to be in NCH had no travel history. Authorities suspected him as a case of local transmission.

Surat Municipal Commissioner Banchhanidhi Pani ordered mass quarantine of the 1.25 square-kilometre area that has dense population. After few days, couple of more cases were reported.

The Adajan area was also declared a containment zone after a 52-year-old resident of Al Amin Residency was admitted in SMIMER Hospital on April 4, tested positive on April 6 and died the following day. Few more cases were reported from the area soon after.

Talking to The Indian Express, Surat Municipal commissioner Banchhanidhi Pani told The Indian Express,

“We have clubbed Rander and Adajan areas and made it a cluster of around three-square-kilometre radius where 82,000 people have been quarantined in their homes. We have found that 35 per cent of cases in the district came from Rander and Adajan, with one death and 7 positive cases.”

The entire area has been blocked and banners of SMC have been put up prohibiting entry and exit. SMC staff and police have been deployed at various places to monitor movement. Essential items are supplied from areas including Morabhagal, Jehangirpura, and Ramnagar.


Walled city

Why: More than 100 of the total 142 cases (almost 70%) across Ahmedabad till April 9, were from these areas


Approximate population contained

Total cases: 282

On April 6, eight containment zones across the city were declared, with only one on the eastern side of the Sabarmati river. By the next day, six more clusters were declared as hotspots, taking the total to 14. These included New Vasahat in Jashodanagar, Devpreet and Devraj towers in Bodakdev area, area around Usmani Masjid in Juhapura, Shakarkhan Masjid ni Pol, Matavadipol and Malik Ahmed Masjid in Dariapur, and Qutubbi mohalla in Kalupur, in addition to the earlier eight that include two societies in Dani limda, Bapunagar in Rakhiyal, an area in Ambawadi, Chamdiyavas and Crystal Flat in Jamalpur, and Matavadipol and Malik Ahmed Masjid in Dariapur.

Within the hotspots, a majority of COVID-19 cases were detected from Safi Manzil in Dani limda area and Mota Baluchavad in Dariapur area, said AMC medical officer Health, Dr Bhavin Solanki. A 35-year-old doctor who was on surveillance duty at the Dani limda UHC tested positive on April 10.

Baluchavad and Malik Ahmed Masjid are barely 200 metres apart and the area densely populated with shared thin walls denying residents of privacy and making social distancing a distant possibility. The Dariapur Urban health Centre is a kilometre away.

With metal barricades preventing the entry of outsiders and exit of insiders, the area has been cut off from the several sweet shops, and from the once-bustling wholesale vegetable and fruit markets of Kalupur. In another stretch of Danilimda near Safi Manzil, the narrow lanes often see ambulances as a permanent fixture.

With the entire walled city declared as a buffer zone, other parts on the eastern side too have been cut off with bamboo barricades, creating mini ecosystems with a couple of medical shops, provision stores vegetable handcarts. In the 14 hotspots, AMC has been delivering vegetables and groceries to households. AMC estimates 1,789 such households with a population of over 7,800.

Ahmedabad Municipal Commissioner Vijay Nehra estimates nearly 200 persons who either went to the Tablighi Jamaat gathering at Nizamuddin Markaz in Delhi, or others who came in contact with those who went. DGP Shivanand Jha, in his daily press conferences, has stated that there are nearly 59 that the police identified who came to Ahmedabad from the Nizamuddin gathering, of whom ten had tested positive.



Why: In a week the area has thrown up 20 COVID-19 cases


Approximate population contained

Total cases: 101

In Vadodara’s Nagarwada and adjoining Saiyadpura, around 5,100 people have been placed under quarantine after the area was declared a red zone. Since April 5, when the first positive case was reported from the area, 20 positive cases have emerged so far. Along with 11 checkpoints barring entry and exit into the area comprising of over 700 households, nine additional barricades have also been placed at smaller crossroads and lanes within.

The area is under complete containment with the presence of one Assistant Commissioner of Police, three police inspectors, six police sub-inspectors, 70 constables, 28 SRP personnel and 35 homeguards who continuously patrol the area. A daily survey is also undertaken by 15 teams of doctors and paramedics.

“We have surveyed all the households on day one itself but it is a continuous process. Our teams visit the locality everyday and hold health surveys. Anybody with symptoms will immediately be quarantined and samples will be sent for testing,” Vadodara Municipal Commissioner, Nalin Upadhyay, said.

Nagarwada is known for its automobile spare parts business and shops which have been shut down since the first day of the lockdown. Mohammad Rafiq Sheikh, 34, who lives in the same lane where three persons tested positive on Thursday, said, “For the past couple of days, vegetable tractors have been coming to our area. But some households are still left behind. People sold milk at a few crossroads but with heavy police presence, many milkmen refrained from continuing to come in. There are 112 households in this lane and the next lane. All the grocery shops have been shut down and we do not know where to go for anything that we need in urgency.”

The administration has started surveying and identifying provision stores that can resume operations soon. “We understand that grocery is essential. We are identifying stores that will be allowed to resume operations. For milk, we have tied up with Baroda dairy and daily suppy has been initiated. Two tractors of fruits and vegetables are also visiting the localities… if needed, we will increase the number,” Upadhyay added.


Why: After a doctor was found to be infected from among the first eight patients.


Approximate population contained

On April 8, the administration declared the minority dominated neighbourhood of Tandalja in the city as a red zone, enforcing immediate containment of 37 colonies comprising 1,831 homes and 7,000 residents after eight cases of COVID-19 were reported from Nagarwada, with one of them a doctor in a local hospital who interacted with 29 patients.

The 22-year-old homeopathic doctor and his 15-year-old brother also tested positive with three more cases in their family. The administration has traced 28 of the patients listed by the hospital who consulted the doctor between March 29 and April 5.

Tandalja area has earned a name for its street food, mainly non-vegetarian joints and biryani stalls. The neighbourhood is also home to former India cricketer, Irrfan Pathan, and his brother Yusuf. The area also has at least three EWS housing colonies –one site under litigation.

Officer on Special Duty, Vinod Rao, said that 15 entry and exit points to the area have been barricaded with heavy police deployment in the area and about three other entry and exit points will also be sealed soon.

“The need to contain this area is to prevent the infection from spreading to other parts of the city. Our 15 medical teams are going door-to-door to check each of the 1,831 homes and 7,000 people. Samples of those with symptoms will be collected from their homes. People are supporting us completely,” he said.


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