Hinting at no possibililty of a lockdown in Gujarat, Deputy Chief Minister Nitin Patel on Monday said that there was “no scientific evidence that indicates a lockdown will definitely break the chain (of transmission)”.
Gujarat on Monday reported 11,403 cases and 117 deaths. On April 1, the state had reported 2,410 cases and nine deaths.
Responding to a question, Patel told mediapersons, “…several states, countries have seen significant reporting of Covid-19 cases despite a lockdown… in the first wave, we could break the chain with a lockdown but in this second wave, the virus is highly infectious”.
Announcing a slash in rate for RT-PCR tests at 55 private laboratories across Gujarat, Patel, who also holds the health portfolio, indicated that there is no plan for a lockdown in Gujarat that continued to report over 10,000 new Covid cases each day.
Patel said, “Night curfew is in place in 20 cities. Several cities, towns, villages, municipalities, organisations and associations have decided to observe voluntary lockdown… we will inform if there is a decision from the state government… We are discussing with experts and what they are saying is to wear masks, maintain social distancing and to wash hands. If these are followed, there is no need for a lockdown… Lockdown can be useful for breaking the chain but it will affect lakhs of people’s employment, their earnings and their businesses.”
He said, “We are keeping a night curfew because a lot of people go to hotels, restaurants, pan stalls and roam around in society compounds…, increasing chances of infection… no state is going for a complete lockdown…”
Patel also added that the increased number of infections has made the public more aware, forcing them to observe safety.
“A self-awareness has come among citizens, in view of the rate at which infections and number of hospitalised patients have increased in the past eight to 10 days… to save themselves and their family, people have become aware…,” he added.
Rate for RT-PCR test at private laboratories if the samples are collected from the residence of the patient has been reduced to Rs 900 from the earlier Rs 1,100. If the samples are collected at the lab, the rate has been cut to Rs 700 from the earlier Rs 800, announced Patel. The new rates will be in force from Tuesday.
Claiming that RT-PCR test results are declared within 24 to 30 hours, Patel said, “In municipal corporations and other big districts where we are receiving a lot of samples, the number of (RTPCR) machines will be increased in laboratories… A testing facility will be launched in Morbi and another machine will be added in Kutch district since we are receiving as many as 1,000 samples from Bhuj (daily)… More private laboratories are being authorised as well across the state (to conduct RT-PCR testing).”
On oxygen shortage and delay in refilling as well as Remdesivir shortage, Patel said, “In Gujarat, oxygen production has been reserved for medical purposes and diversion for industrial use has been stopped. Police has been roped in to ensure smooth transport of oxygen tankers and to ensure there is no time wastage in delivery… Each day we are getting nearly 20,000 Remdesivir injections… we are giving it to the district administration and government hospitals. For private hospitals, the respective district collector or municipal commissioner is allocating on a need-basis.”
The Deputy CM also announced that the state health insurance scheme card — Mukhyamantri Amrutam Yojana — will be extended by three months for those whose insurance expired on March 31.