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Central team on Gujarat visit as COVID-19 cases surge

A Central team on Saturday met senior officials in Gandhinagar in Gujarat in view of rising number of COVID-19 cases in some cities.

As cases mounted, authorities have clamped a curfew in Ahmedabad between 9 pm on November 20 and 6 AM on November 23.

Besides, night curfews between 9 pm and 6 am will remain in force in Vadodara, Surat and Rajkot until further orders.

With 1,515 new cases on Saturday, Gujarat’s caseload has risen to 1,95,917.

The three-member team led by Dr Sujeet Kumar Singh, Director of National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), met senior officials of the state Health department in Gandhinagar and also visited the SVP Hospital in Ahmedabad where COVID-19 patients are undergoing treatment.

Kumar told reporters the team will make a realistic assessment of the pandemic situation in Gujarat after taking officials into confidence.

“We met state principal secretary, health commissioner, municipal commissioner and other senior health department officials, and discussed the COVID-19 situation in Gujarat and in Ahmedabad.

“They shared detailed information on how the number of cases rose and informed about the measures taken by the state.

We have scheduled our two-day visit to the state on the basis of this information,” Kumar said.

He said the team might visit Vadodara, where it will inspect hospitals and review the pandemic situation over the next two days.

“We need to do a realistic observation of the prevailing situation….It is not a case of an administrative failure. Crowding will increase infection if we do not take precautions. And this applies to the entire India,” said Kumar.

Meanwhile, the daily life came to a standstill in Ahmedabad as the curfew progressed on Saturday.

All busy roads and market places wore a deserted look amid a heavy police presence. Police personnel can be seen stopping vehicles and questioning people about the purpose of stepping out on roads.

Authorities have allowed people to step out of their houses only to buy milk and medicines.

Some citizens can be seen walking long distances as the state transporter has suspended over 300 services to and fro Ahmedabad.

“We came from Gwalior and wanted to go to Bhavnagar, but now we are stuck in Ahmedabad due to the curfew,” said one Deven who claimed to have walked around six hours with his wife and another person.

Assistant Commissioner of Police, Vadodara, Chirag Koradia, said, “We would like to appeal to people to support us for the proper imposition of the curfew between 9 pm and 6 am,” he told reporters.

Meanwhile, Deputy Chief Minister Nitin Patel, who also holds the health portfolio, said the government has taken preventive measures to stop the spread of coronavirus and appealed to people not to panic.

“During recently-concluded Navratri and Diwali festivals, the number of daily COVID-19 cases (in the state) came down from 1,200 to 800. However, the infection count rose as a result of people stepping out for purchasing for festivities, visiting restaurants and meeting their friends,” he said.

He said the daily graph of COVID-19 cases bounced to 1,400 again after falling from 1,200 to 800 in the recent past.

Except Ahmedabad, Surat, Rajkot and Vadodara, all other districts in the state have recorded new cases in two digits.

“We discussed the prevailing situation at the core meeting and decided that this is the right time to impose curfew,” Patel said.

He said there was no laxity on the part of the state government and local administration, when asked about the spike in new cases.

“How can we stop people from meeting their relatives and family members during festivals? Doing so was not practical and possible. It was not right to impose a curfew during Diwali. The number of new cases is not that much which will scare us,” he added.

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