Gujarat on Thursday reported 4,021 cases of Covid-19, the highest single-day spike since the pandemic struck the state, with Ahmedabad and Surat districts bearing nearly 50 per cent of the state’s caseload, with the city of Ahmedabad adding nearly 500 active cases in a single day taking the total cases up to 951. Deputy chief minister Nitin Patel on Thursday announced addition of another 900 beds for Ahmedabad city over “four to five days”, declaring such an infrastructural scale-up for the second second consecutive day, on a tour of the state’s largest Covid 19 hospital. The state also saw 35 people dying of Covid 19, the highest in the last nine months in a single day.
Even as the cases continued to surge at a rapid pace, Gujarat saw a slow down in vaccinations since Wednesday, when only 1.19 lakh were inoculated. This number went up to 2.65 lakh on Thursday, considerably lower than April 3 when 5.30 lakh doses were administered across the state.
Outside the triage area of the Ahmedabad Civil Hospital’s 1200-bed Covid-19 designated unit – the biggest in the state- eight ambulances were parked, relatives waiting with files in hand, PPE-kit wearing staff rushing in and out with patients on stretchers and some others, loading oxygen cylinders in trolleys. Rahul Panchpande, had been waiting for over four hours for his grandmother Kusumben (68) to be discharged. The hospital’s Covid-19 burden was evident.
Nearly ten days ago, Kusumben, a resident of Ghodasar, was wheeled to a private hospital, after she had been complaining of breathlessness and cough for over four days. However, the private hospital had no beds and after she tested positive for Covid-19, she was advised to be shifted to either the Ahmedabad Civil Hospital or the AMC-run SVP Hospital. After being admitted to Ahmedabad Civil Hospital, where she was on oxygen support, she was scheduled for discharge on Thursday. “We were informed that she will be discharged at 11 am. We immediately rushed here. But we have only been waiting since then and it is already 3 p.m. No one is telling us anything, we don’t even know if there are any discharge formalities to be done. The nurse who was assisting my grandmother also left,” says Rahul. The hospital, swamped with patients, has however seen prompt response when it comes to patient admissions as several kin waiting outside, attested to, when enquired by this paper.
Take for example Kalaben Patni (31). Her sister says she has had fever and cough since eight to nine days but would pop a pill each day and leave to sell vegetables in Chandkheda. “We tried admitting her at Rajasthan Hospital last evening but they asked for an upfront payment of one lakh rupees and gave an estimate that her treatment would cost at least two to three lakh rupees. But this was out of our budget. So we brought her to Civil Hospital today as she was getting breathless in an autorickshaw today. We brought her here at around 1 a.m. and she was almost immediately taken in,” says her sister. At the triage area, Kalaben was seated and was kept on oxygen support.
Among the peripheral districts seeing a case surge include Patan, Mehsana, Bhavnagar, Jamnagar,Kutch and Mahisagar. Bhavnagar municipal commissioner MA Gandhi said it is also treating patients from Botad, Amreli and Gir Somnath. Sir T Hospital, the government hospital in Bhavnagar, currently has a provision of 336 beds, of which as of Thursday evening 203 positive and suspected COVID19 patients were admitted. Another 440 beds are provisioned across private hospitals. Gandhi says it is mulling if elective non-essential procedures can be suspended and the capacity of Sir T Hospital be increased to a total of 750 beds, even as Gandhi added, that the district was communicated to transfer 20 ventilators to Rajkot.. Bhavnagar – city and rural combined, reported 84 cases on Thursday and 90 cases on Wednesday, the latter being a district high since the pandemic broke out in the state. At Rajkot Civil Hospital, additional incharge of COVID19 patients, Dr Hetal Kyada, on a telephonic call, added that “there is a situation of constant crisis right now.” The district – including city and rural limits, reported 520 cases in a single day, again a record high till date. Kutch, where over 300 active patients are shown in the state’s COVID19 dashboard, and reported a district high of 41 cases on Thursday, currently has anywhere between 400 to 500 Covid-19 patients in its hospitals, undergoing treatment. CDHO Dr JO Madhak says there has been a scale-up in capacities since the past four days and currently of the 84 ventilators in its GK General Hospital, 12 are occupied, with further addition of 100 beds planned in the coming days and a possible suspension of non-emergency procedures.
Patan, has seen a steep rise, with 100 or more cases being reported since the past three days. Patan district collector and chief district health office remained unavailable for comment.
Notably, the Thursday deaths were seen in districts that had already tackled an earlier wave of surge in cases in the past one year – such as Bharuch, Mehsana, Amreli, Jamnagar.
Deputy Chief Minister Patel, who also holds the health portfolio, took a tour of UN Mehta Institute of Cardiology and Research Centre followed by a visit to the 1200-bed facility at Ahmedabad Civil Hospital, to announce that in the “coming four to five days, 400 beds will be added for Covid treatment,” in the Medicity campus (which houses several government including Ahmedabad Civil Hospital and government-aided hospitals) while Patel also added that at present nearly 400 of Covid-designated beds are vacant in the campus. He also declared that within five days, AMC-run SVP Hospital, which has a total bed capacity of 1,000 beds, will see all its beds designated for Covid, with regular patients who are undergoing other treatment, discharged. Regular operations will be suspended,. Currently, the hospital has 500 beds reserved for Covid-19, and will see an increase of 100 beds each day, starting Thursday.
Patel, however, sidestepped mediapersons’ queries on capacity expansion in other districts and only addressed the bed capacity increase in Ahmedabad. The current wave has seen all districts affected, apart from Ahmedabad, Surat, Vadodara and Rajkot, which has often seen a surge from time-to-time in the past year. The health minister too admitted that districts such as Jamnagar and Morbi too is seeing a case burden.
SMC to extend bed capacity to 1,800, central team reaches Surat
Meanwhile, Surat district reported 14 out of the total 35 Covid-19 fatalities in Gujarat on Thursday – the highest in the district since the pandemic struck. To ramp up its bed capacity to 1,800, the Surat Municipal Corporation (SMC) signed MoUs with 51 private hospitals besides converting community halls and night shelter homes run by the civic body to Covid care centres with oxygen supply network.
The district reported a total of 960 new Covid-19 cases of which 723 were from the SMC area.
Sources said that Surat New Civil hospital has bed capacity of 1500 with 929 Covid-19 patients undergoing treatment, while the SMC-run SMIMER hospital has 821 beds, out of which 522 are occupied. Similarly the private hospitals treating the Covid patients are also flooded with patients. Till date Surat city has recorded 54,114 Covid-19 cases and 944 deaths. Athwa and Rander zones reported the maximum cases at 129 and 111 respectively.
The new kidney hospital with 800 beds and oxygen supply network will be used from Friday onwards, while the multilevel parking area of SMC is also converted into Covid centre with over 100 beds. Apart from this, Southern Gujarat Chamber of Commerce and Industry hall at Convention centre in Sarsara area will be converted to a Covid centre with 500 beds. Night shelter homes in Bhatar and Althan areas, the community halls at Sarthana and Bharimata (Katargam) areas will also be converted to Covid centres. Apart from this Samras centre in the university campus has been made ready with 400 beds and oxygen supply network.
The civic body has also signed Memorandums of Understanding with 51 private hospitals in the city and requested them to keep 50 per cent beds reserved for Covid-19 patients in each hospital. Sources said that earlier only 25 per cent private designated hospitals were intimated to keep 25 per cent beds reserved for Covid-19 patients.
According to SMC commissioner B N Pani, the city had 1368 micro containment zones till Thursday.
Deputed IAS officer and MD of GIDC M. Thennarasan said, “We use all the resources to make more arrangements for the patients with such upswing in the cases. We need more oxygen and we will get it from Inox centre at Hazira, air liquid company at Jhagadia… We have 750 ventilators and we have decided to increase 400 more. In the coming days we will get 300 ventilators from the state government.”
A nine-member central government team arrived in Surat Thursday to review preparedness and implementation of Covid-19 management in the district.
The team members carried out meeting with the Municipal Commissioner B N Pani, District Collector Dr Dhaval Patel,Police Commissioner Ajay Kumar Tomar and health department officials of the SMC and NCH.
The team members include Dr Sandeep Jogdanand, Deputy Director NCDC, Dr. Ashok Kuwal, Assistant Professor, Department of Pulmonary Medicine, AIIMS, Jodhpur, V K Ranjan, Ministry of Home Affairs, Dr. Amol Patil.
It was accompanied by one more team from Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) New Delhi, headed by Dr. Tarun Bhatnagar (Scientist), followed by Dr. Yogesh Gurav (Scientist), and Dr. Rubesh Kumar (Advisor).
Surat Municipal Commissioner B N PAni said, “We have shared information about the activities done by the health department including the Covid-19 tests, contact tracing, tab on the home quarantine patients, containment zones, treatment of the patients in the hospitals and our Covid-related data collection. The team will stay here for two days visit the Civil hospital, SMIMER hospital and other Covid care centres.