AHMEDABAD: Gujarat reported 4,021 new COVID-19 cases on Thursday, the highest single-day spike so far, taking the tally to 3,32,474, the state Health Department said.
The daily count surpassed the previous highest one-day rise of 3,575 COVID-19 cases recorded on Wednesday.
As many as 35 persons succumbed to the infection in Gujarat in the last 24 hours, taking the death toll to 4,655, said a release by the department.
The fresh fatalities included 14 from Surat city, nine from Ahmedabad district, four from Rajkot, three from Vadodara and one each Amreli, Bharuch, Bhavnagar, Jamnagar and Mehsana, it said.
Ahmedabad city registered 951 new cases, the highest in Gujarat, during the last 24 hours.
It was followed by 723 cases in Surat city, 427 in Rajkot city, 379 in Vadodara city, 237 in Surat district, 111 in Vadodara district and 104 in Jamnagar district.
With 2,197 patients getting discharged during the day, the tally of recovered cases rose to 3,07,346 cases, said the release, adding Gujarat's rate of recovery has gone down to 92.44 per cent.
The number of active cases stood at 20,473, of which, 182 patients are on ventilators, while 20,291 are stable, the release said.
As many as 74.04 lakh persons in the state have been given the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, while 9.27 lakh administered the second dose till date, said the release.
A total of 31 new cases were reported in the adjoining Union Territory of Dadra Nagar Haveli and Daman & Diu in the last 24 hours, said a release by the authorities.
Also, 12 patients recovered from the infection during the day, the release said.
Of the total 3,814 persons found positive for coronavirus in the Union Territory since the outbreak, two have died, 3,603 have recovered while 209 are still under treatment, it said.
Gujarat's COVID-19 figures are as follows: Positive cases 3,32,474 new cases 4,021, deaths 4,655, discharged 3,07,346, active cases 20,473, people tested so far (figures not released).
Amid complaints of a shortage of the COVID-19 vaccine in some parts of Gujarat, the state government on Thursday said it has received 15 lakh new doses from the Centre.
While the fresh stock of the vaccine was received on Wednesday, the state government is already in talks with the Centre for getting another batch, said Deputy Chief Minister Nitin Patel.
"The Centre has sent 15 lakh new doses of the coronavirus vaccine just yesterday. It will be distributed to various districts as per requirements."
"This new stock will run for four days. Now, no one will be turned away due to a shortage," Patel told reporters.
On an average, around 1.7 lakh eligible beneficiaries are covered daily under the ongoing vaccination drive in Gujarat.
Till now, 71.86 lakh persons have been given the first dose of the vaccine, said a health department release.
Patel visited the main civil hospital campus in the city to review the patient management and availability of beds.
To accommodate more patients, the state government has decided to covert the newly-built 418-bed kidney hospital in the campus as a dedicated COVID-19 hospital, said Patel, adding another 200 beds will be added in the coming days.
He said over 1,000 beds in different government-run hospitals in the city will also be made available for COVID-19 patients soon.
To ease the burden on hospitals, Patel said the government is mulling to make use of large community halls for patients who requires nothing except Remdesivir injection, a key drug in COVID-19 treatment.
"Almost 25 per cent the COVID-19 patients who are admitted to hospitals are those who only require Remdesivir injection. They do not require any other treatment."
"Thus, we are mulling to set up separate facilities, may be in community halls, for such patients. This will free more beds in hospitals," said Patel.
The civic body in Gujarat's Ahmedabad city has reserved 1,219 beds for infected patients in 18 private hospitals, an official said on Thursday.
The Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation (AMC) has earmarked 18 hospitals as "designated COVID-19 hospitals" and reserved 50 per cent of their beds for poor patients, whom the civic body will refer to those hospitals.
Bed availability has been a major issue amid the fresh surge of coronavirus cases in government and private hospitals, as the city has been recording nearly 800 cases every day.
"To augment the availability, we added 1,219 beds in 18 private hospitals to enable patients to avail treatment at charges/ceiling fixed earlier.
We will continue to add more beds in view of current situation," tweeted senior IAS officer Rajiv Kumar Gupta, who has been given charge to control the coronavirus situation of Ahmedabad city.
As per a notice issued by the AMC, 18 hospitals have been declared as dedicated COVID-19 hospitals and now these will only have to admit coronavirus patients.
The hospitals will reserve 50 per cent beds for patients referred by the AMC, while they can admit coronavirus patients on their own in the remaining beds.
Patients admitted on reserved beds won't have to pay the hospital and their treatment charges will be borne by the AMC.
The designated hospitals include Zydus Hospital, K D Hospital, Sterling Hospital, Narayan Hridayalaya, Saviour Hospital, among others.
A 12-member central team visited Surat in Gujarat on Thursday and collected information about the vaccination process and the number of patients being treated in the district, a senior official said.
The team comprised experts from the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), Delhi, Pune-based National Institute of Virology and the Union health ministry.
Surat Collector Dhaval Patel told reporters that the situation is "serious" this time as compared to last year, and the best way is to stay indoors and maintain social distance.
He said the central team, during a meeting with top officials of Surat, took information about the RT-PCR and antigen tests being conducted here, positivity rate, the number of people being vaccinated, and patient management.
"We informed them about the steps being taken to enforce the standard operating procedures (SOPs) in order to stop the spread of the virus," Patel said.
He said the number of serious COVID-19 patients getting admitted in hospitals here every day is considerably higher than last year.
"Around 250 coronavirus patients are getting admitted in hospitals every day," the collector said.
In such a situation, the present health infrastructure may not be enough if people do not follow the norms and do not stay indoors, he said.
On Wednesday, 621 new cases of the viral infection were reported in Surat city, as per official figures.
State sees migrant exodus again
Fearing another lockdown in the wake of a sudden spike in COVID-19 cases in Gujarat, migrant workers and their families have started leaving Surat and Ahmedabad, two of the state's most severely affected cities.
However, government officials on Thursday claimed the number of those leaving was very low and people cannot be stopped from moving from one place to another.
"There are no formal reports which suggest that a large number of migrants are leaving. However, we have asked district authorities to ensure that workers do not face any trouble," state Additional Chief Secretary, Labour and Employment, Vipul Mittra told PTI.
Since there is no lockdown and trains are also running, people are free to move anywhere in the country, he said.
Mittra said though some people are going back to their native places, "it's not happening on large scale".
"Last year, there was a rush because the lockdown was imposed all of a sudden. Thus, as a precaution, migrants are going back home as they feel that transportation may not be available after some time," the official said.
In Ahmedabad, a number of migrant workers, mostly hailing from Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, have been rushing to the city's main Kalupur railway station to travel to their native places, said Yogesh Mishra, member of the Zonal Rail Users Consultative Committee.
The migrants fear they would be stuck here if the government imposes another lockdown, Mishra said, adding that the waiting list for reserved seats in trains is also increasing with each passing day.
"The Gujarat High Court recently suggested that a lockdown should be imposed. This has created panic among the migrant workers, who suffered a lot last year due to the sudden lockdown and travel restrictions," he said.
Now, migrants are in a hurry to reach their native places, said Mishra.
"People from UP are leaving in large numbers, mainly because they don't want to miss the panchayat polls, starting from April 15. Many have also planned marriage ceremonies, which were cancelled last year," he said.
People are extra cautious this time and want to leave before any travel restrictions are announced, he added.
In Surat, migrant workers belonging to UP, Madhya Pradesh, Bihar and Jharkhand have been leaving in luxury buses, but their number is not very large, Surat Luxury Bus Operators Association president Dinesh Andhan said.
"People from Saurashtra are not leaving. It's the migrants from other states who are leaving Surat city due to panic. They suffered a lot last year due to the lockdown and unavailability of transport. Many were forced to walk to their native places last year," Andhan said.