The Covid-19 ghost has come to haunt Gujarat again on the back of a new heavily mutated variant – Omicron — with infections inching towards the 100-mark within weeks of its presence in the state. This time, however, the state government appears to be rather alert and responsive. The most plausible explanation seems the severe flak the ex-CM Vijay Rupani government faced over the (mis)management of the Covid second wave in the first half of 2021.
Unlike earlier, the Bhupendra Patel-led state government has all elementary data ready and with better hands-on experience, public hospitals appear better equipped to handle likely spurt in the cases. It is worth noting that the preparations which now seem well-equipped to cater to the present health requirements would demand a major extension if the probable third wave turns out to be anything like its predecessor.
Vibes of India takes a peek into how well prepared is Gujarat to tackle a plausible third wave?
Beds Enough. For Now!
According to the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation website, as of December 28, the city had 1,617 isolation beds for Covid-19 patients, 3,126 oxygen beds, 501 ICU beds without ventilators and 649 beds with ventilators. On the Omicron front, the Ahmedabad Civil Hospital has reserved 24 beds for isolation. The hospital, at present, has seven Omicron patients in isolation.
“We also have 200 beds for Covid patients, which can go up to 3,000 on an immediate basis,” Dr Rakesh Joshi, Medical Superintendent of Ahmedabad Civil Hospital, told Vibes of India (VoI).
The other major AMC-run hospital, SVP, has 380 beds reserved for Covid patients, of which 60 beds are kept aside for those infected with Omicron or suspected of having contracted the new variant infection. “We have 49 ventilator beds and 100 oxygen beds, along with 178 isolation beds and 40 non-ventilator ICU beds,” Dr Kuldip Joshi, SVP Covid Nodal Officer, told VoI.
It has to be noted that as per the 2011 census, Ahmedabad has a population of over 55 lakhs. As the city had been recording a surge in cases at the rate of over 80 per cent for the past two days, the number of beds might not be enough if the increase continues at a similar rate. The local transmission of the variant makes the possibility of spurt in cases much more likely.
On Tuesday, of the five new Omicron cases, four had no international travel history. Yesterday, of the 24 people detected with Omicron, seven had no international travel history, indicating local transmission.
Rajkot — one of the main contributors to the state’s active Covid tally by having added 150 cases in the last week — has 3,000 beds reserved for the patients in two government hospitals. “Moreover, we have 18 functional PSA oxygen plants, and two are in the process of being set up,” Arun Mahesh Babu, Rajkot Collector, said.
Rajkot has three active Omicron patients – all primary contacts of two Tanzania nationals who were students of the Rajkot University – indicating local transmission. “The initial two patients have been discharged, while the newly admitted patients are stable,” the collector said.
Gujarat has 750 beds reserved for Omicron patients, a senior state health official said.
Schools To Continue Offline Classes
State education secretary Vinod Rao confirmed to VoI that the government has no plans to shift to online education entirely. “Offline education is voluntary,” Rao said.
The state has begun preparations for inoculating around 26.5 lakh teenagers in the 15-18 years age group from January 3. A senior state official said that immunisation will start from schools, and “those not attending classes would also be immunised.”
Vibrant Gujarat Summit In A Pickle?
A senior BJP party member said it is highly likely that the Vibrant Gujarat summit between January 10 and 12 might have to be deferred.
“However, we are constantly monitoring the situation, and a decision will be taken in a week,” the party member said.
BJP spokesperson Yamal Vyas said the government is trying its best to ensure that the present Covid scenario in Gujarat does not take the shape of the second wave. “As far as Vibrant Gujarat Summit is concerned, we are continuously monitoring the situation and will soon come up with a final decision,” he told VoI.
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