Covid 19 cases, fatalities rise in Rajkot, triggering self-imposed lockdown

Rajkot officials have denied there was any attempt to hide real death figures due to Covid 19.
A healthcare worker wearing personal protective equipment (PPE) takes a swab from a police officer for a rapid antigen test.(Reuters Photo)
A healthcare worker wearing personal protective equipment (PPE) takes a swab from a police officer for a rapid antigen test.(Reuters Photo)
Updated on Sep 18, 2020 09:25 PM IST
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Hindustan Times, Jaipur | By Jaykishan Sharma | Edited by Abhinav Sahay

At least half of the 7,033 Covid-19 cases and 115 deaths recorded in Gujarat’s Rajkot have been reported in the past month, official data shows.

Gujarat health department data shows that the number of Covid 19 cases increased from 3,289 on August 16 to 7,033 on September 16. The number of deaths rose to 115 from 54 in the same period.

According to the official data, Rajkot’s case fatality rate is the lowest in the state but some recent incidents have raised suspicion of there being some discrepancy in the data on the number of deaths. A local Gujarati daily in Rajkot reported on September 3 that 32 bodies were cremated/buried in Rajkot city the previous day as per Covid-19 protocols but only three deaths were recorded in Gujarat’s Covid health bulletin.

Rajkot municipal commissioner Udit Mishra denied hiding real death figures and said that a death audit committee determines the cause of deaths of Covid patients.

“Some people have confused routine deaths with Covid deaths. This may be because suspected Covid patients are cremated following the Covid protocol when they die. Covid death figures are decided by the audit committee,” said Mishra.

Former president of the Rajkot medical association (RMA) Dr Chetan Lalseta said: “One should not attribute all deaths to Rajkot district. Many terminally ill patients coming from the neighbouring districts also contribute to the high death numbers in Rajkot.”

Still, the situation turned so bad that the Gujarat government had to rush its health secretary Jayanti Ravi with a team of health experts and doctors to the home town of chief minister Vijay Rupani on August 31 to bring the situation under control.

“All efforts are being made to reduce fatalities in Rajkot district. Around 15 doctors from other districts would be stationed here and additional ventilators would be provided,” news agency PTI quoted her as saying on August 31.

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As the cases have risen exponentially, residents have gone into isolation.

“We had no option but to go for a self-imposed complete lockdown as cases were rising very fast and lockdown is the only way to control the chain of transmission,” said Suresh Kumar, communications in-charge of the Rajkot wholesale textile merchants association.

He said the voluntary lockdown is almost complete with essential good shops opening for limited hours every day. “There is a huge fear among people as the virus is spreading very fast. People are not coming out of their homes voluntarily now,” he said.

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Lalseta said a huge spike in Covid-19 cases was witnessed after the Janmashtami festival (August 11) when people gathered in large numbers despite restrictions imposed by the state government.

As the cases increased, 160 out of the 300 registered doctors in the city were infected, resulting in the hampering of disease containment measures. He added that things were looking better now with 90% of doctors having recovered.

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Sunday, October 24, 2021