January 19, 2021 4:23:36 am
Directing panchayat-level health department employees to resume duty, who have been observing an indefinite strike due to the non-payment of salaries, the state health department on Monday warned that if employees continue to be absent from work, punitive action will be taken against them.
Stating that “the possibility of an increase in Covid-19 cases cannot be ruled out,” Gujarat Health Commissioner Jaiprakash Shivhare said that it is imperative that doctors and other healthcare workers perform their duty, especially since the vaccination drive is currently underway.
The health commissioner further directed panchayat-level healthcare employees, who have been observing an indefinite strike, to resume duty “immediately and unconditionally.”
If the employees continue to strike despite the commissioner’s order, criminal proceedings will be initiated under the Epidemic Diseases Act, with district collectors empowered to take suitable action. District development officers have also been directed to take disciplinary action against absentee employees and consider their days of absence as service break.
Shivhare added that if the strike continues, it may disrupt not only regular health services provided, but also make it difficult to conduct the vaccination drive since healthcare workers themselves are the first priority group for receiving the immunisation shots.
Several districts such as Aravalli and Banaskantha witnessed disgruntled health workers missing their vaccination in protest of the non-payment of salaries, which has remained pending since November. Many of them had declared indefinite strikes starting January 15.
Meanwhile, Gujarat reported 495 new cases of Covid-19 on Monday and discharged another 700 patients, with two deaths reported across Gujarat — both from Ahmedabad city. This is the lowest daily surge since the second week of June, with Ahmedabad city reporting fewer than a 100 cases.
As per data provided by the state government, Ahmedabad district presently has fewer than 500 patients admitted in hospitals for Covid-19 treatment. At Ahmedabad Civil Hospital, fewer than 100 patients are currently admitted.
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