AHMEDABAD: Gujarat added 12,553 new coronavirus cases on Wednesday, the highest daily count so far, while 125 patients died due to the infection, the most in a day, officials said.
The number of cases in Gujarat rose to 4,40,731 with the addition of 12,553 new infections, said a release by the Health Department.
The previous highest one-day case count - 12,206 - was reported on April 20.
As many as 125 patients succumbed to the infection in the last 24 hours, the highest so far in the period, taking the toll to 5,740, the release said.
The previous highest one-day death count (121) was registered on April 20.
Surat district recorded 29 deaths, followed by 23 in Ahmedabad, 12 each in Vadodara and Rajkot, 8 in Jamnagar and 6 in Bhavnagar, the department said.
Deaths were also reported in various other districts of the state.
Ahmedabad city registered 4,821 new COVID-19 cases during the last 24 hours, followed by 1,849 in Surat city, 495 in Mehsana district, 491 in Surat district, 475 in Vadodara city, 397 in Rajkot city and 307 in Jamnagar city.
As many as 4,802 patients were discharged from hospitals during the day, taking the tally of recovered cases to 3,50,865, the release said.
Gujarat's COVID-19 recovery rate dropped below 80 per cent to stand at 79.61 per cent, it said.
The number of active cases rose to 84,126, of which 361 patients are on ventilators, while 83,765 are stable, the department said.
As many as 90.93 lakh people have been given the first dose of COVID-19 vaccine in Gujarat till date, while 16.22 lakh have received the second dose, said the release.
During the day, 54,548 persons received the first dose, while 64,510 eligible persons got the second dose of the coronavirus vaccine, it said.
In the adjoining Union Territory of Dadra and Nagar Haveli and Daman & Diu, 251 new cases were reported in the last 24 hours, said a release by the local authorities.
Also, 101 patients were discharged from hospitals during the day, it said.
Out of total 5,643 persons found positive for coronavirus in the UT since the outbreak, four have died, 4,122 have recovered, while 1,517 patients are under treatment, the release said.
Gujarat COVID-19 figures are as follows: Positive cases 4,40,731, new cases 12,553, deaths 5,740, discharged 3,50,865, active cases 84,126, people tested so far (figures not released).
Two COVID-19 patients, who were on life support, died due to a sudden shortage of oxygen at a private hospital in Deesa town of Gujarat's Banaskantha district on Wednesday, an official said.
According to doctors, a similar tragedy was averted in Rajkot city, after a tanker carrying medical oxygen arrived in the nick of time before the hospital ran out of the life- saving gas.
Banaskantha district's health officer Jignesh Hariyani confirmed that two persons had died at Het ICU, a designated COVID-19 private hospital in Deesa.
"As against the demand, we had oxygen stock till Tuesday and the new stock was ordered, which reached during the day. Two patients lost their lives in the intervening period due to shortage of oxygen," he said.
Officials have been on their toes to bring in medical oxygen from Ahmedabad and Bhavnagar, Hariyani said.
Meanwhile, a relative of one the deceased patients claimed at least four patients had lost their lives due to abrupt disruption in the oxygen supply at the hospital.
"My father was admitted here. When I inquired about my father's low oxygen level during the day, doctors told me that the hospital was running out of oxygen. Apart from my father, three others have died due to shortage of oxygen since Tuesday night," one Bharat Patel told reporters outside the hospital.
In Rajkot, a half-filled oxygen tank reached a designated COVID-19 hospital near Malaviya College in the nick of time, just as the hospital's supply ran out.
"Although we needed two tankers to fill our tanks, we settled for a half-full tanker because we were running out of oxygen for our patients. If we run out of oxygen, we may not get time to shift critical patients to other hospitals, as they can't survive for more than five to seven minutes," said Dr Shantanu Jivani of the facility in Rajkot.
The state has also allowed banks in the state to function with 50 per cent staff till April 30, and also reduced their working hours till that period in a bid to reduce the risk of coronavirus infection among the employees.
The government's Finance Department issued a circular on Tuesday night, a day after the State Level Banking Committee (SLBC) urged the state government to take such steps, saying that over 30 employees of banks have died due to the infection in the last one month.
Bank branches can either adopt the alternate work day method or work-from-home mode to ensure that only 50 per cent staff comes to the branches, the circular said.
The state government also curtailed the banking hours for customers by two hours.
The banking business for customers shall be undertaken from 10 am to 2 pm now, it said.
The circular added that the bank branches "shall provide only essential services, such as cash deposit and withdrawal, to customers and preference shall be given to senior citizens".
It also asked the banks to ensure adequate cash in their ATMs and encourage customers to use digital payment modes.
The announcement came a day after the Maha Gujarat Bank Employees Association (MGBEA), a prominent union of bank employees, wrote a letter to Chief Minister Vijay Rupani, claiming that nearly 15,000 employees of banks have tested positive for coronavirus in Gujarat so far and over 30 of them died during the "second wave" in the last one month.
In view of the current situation, the union had put forward several demands, such as reduced cash transaction hours, extra holidays and relaxation in working hours.
The union had sought Rupani's intervention as chief minister is the chairman of the SLBC.
In the letter, the MGBEA stated that around 50,000 bank employees are working in over 9,900 branches across Gujarat and they are afraid of entering the bank premises or interacting with customers after learning that the new strain of COVID-19 is airborne.