Record spike in Gujarat with 1,730 Covid cases, 9 MLAs positive since start of House session

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By: Express News Service | Ahmedabad, Gandhinagar, Surat |
Updated: March 24, 2021 6:47:32 am

On Tuesday, the Assembly Speaker banned the entry of visitors as a precautionary measure.

GUJARAT REPORTED a record high of 1,730 new Covid-19 cases on Tuesday, surpassing Monday’s spike of 1,640 cases. At least nine MLAs have also tested positive for the infection since the budget session of the Gujarat Legislative Assembly began on March 1.

Congress legislators Naushad Solanki and Punja Vansh, and BJP MLAs Vijay Patel and Mohan Dodiya, who were among those attending the ongoing Budget session, have tested positive for the infection Tuesday, Speaker Rajendra Trivedi informed the House. In Vadodara, MP Ranjan Bhatt and BJP MLA from Dabhoi Shailesh Mehta had tested positive last week.

On Tuesday, the Assembly Speaker banned the entry of visitors as a precautionary measure. “A number of staff members of ministers have got infected. My first request is to the ministers not to call any visitors within the Assembly building till the House is in session. The minister can organise such meetings in their offices,” Trivedi said. The ongoing session is expected to conclude on April 1.

“Naushadbhai, when he came to meet me in the office three days ago, he would occasionally remove his mask while talking… I am not trying to criticise. But Punjabhai came thrice to my office in three days. He would come without wearing a mask. Then I would ask him (to wear a mask) and he would take it out of his pocket and wear,” the Speaker said while asking all MLAs to wear masks and maintain social distancing.

Congress Chief Whip Ashwin Kotwal said they wanted the House to be discontinued in view of the rise in infections, but the ruling BJP did not agree “since the latter want to bring a law on love jihad in the current session”.

BJP Chief Whip Pankaj Desai, however, said there had been no discussion on discontinuing or adjourning the House because of the spike in the Covid-19 cases, including among MLAs, so far.

Nearly 2.90 lakh people have been infected with the novel coronavirus in the state so far, while 6.09 lakh have completed their vaccine doses in Gujarat as of Tuesday.

A notification issued by the state health department made a negative RT-PCR certificate that is not older than 72 hours mandatory for any person entering Gujarat from Maharashtra. The order, issued by Vanrajsinh Padhariya, the deputy secretary at the health department, states the state government’s decision comes at the behest of the recent surge in cases seen in Maharashtra and after a number of contacts of Gujarat patients indicated that the infection source could be traced to the neighbouring state.

Meanwhile, with the central government announcing that it will open up vaccination for those above 45 years from April 1, Gujarat health principal secretary, Jayanti Ravi, said no doctor’s certification will be necessary for vaccinating those aged between 45 and 59 years from next month.

Ravi added the second dose of Covishield vaccine could be taken between four and eight weeks after the first dose, preferably in the sixth week, as has been decided upon following the Centre’s guidelines and the state task force’s advice.

While Ahmedabad city has been leading in vaccination coverage — administering 3.29 lakh doses till date, including 72,282 who have completed both doses — Surat city will now inoculate the migrant population. A vaccination centre will be rolled out at the Rotary hospital at Sachin GIDC in Surat city to vaccinate migrant workers.

Secretary of Sachin Industrial Co-operative Society, Mayur Golwala, said, “There are lakhs of migrant workers who want to get vaccinated. So, we have created a place in Sachin, where they will be inoculated. We are contacting each and every factory in Sachin GIDC to get the names and mobile numbers of labourers, who are above 45 years, registered. We will call the labourers in different slots and the medical teams will vaccinate them from April 1 onwards.”

So far, Surat city has administered 2.09 lakh vaccine doses with 37,508 fully vaccinated.

The number of active cases on Tuesday stood at 8,318, which is fewer than the over 14,000 active cases recorded each day between November 24 and December 9, 2020. Ahmedabad, which reported 509 new cases on the day, currently has 2,712 active cases. Surat reported 577 cases on the day, but currently has more than 2,600 active patients.

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