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Record rise of 13,105 COVID-19 cases in Gujarat, 137 deaths; doctors allege Remdesivir hoarding, misuse

Remdesivir, used for treating COVID-19, is in high demand and shortages are being reported from across the country.

Published: 23rd April 2021 10:37 AM  |   Last Updated: 23rd April 2021 10:37 AM   |  A+A-

Workers sort cylinders containing medical oxygen, as its demand rises due to spike in coronavirus cases, in Surat. (Photo | PTI)

By PTI

AHMEDABAD: Gujarat added 13,105 new coronavirus cases, its highest one-day rise so far, in the last 24 hours, health officials said on Thursday evening.

It took the state's caseload to 4,53,836.

As many as 137 patients, also the highest so far, succumbed to the infection in the last 24 hours, taking the death toll to 5,877.

Surat district recorded 27 deaths, followed by 24 in Ahmedabad, 14 each in Vadodara and Rajkot, nine in Jamnagar and five in Banaskantha.

Deaths were also reported from other districts.

Ahmedabad city registered 5,142 new infections during the last 24 hours, followed by 1,958 in Surat city, 697 in Rajkot city, 598 in Vadodara city, 518 in Surat district, 444 in Mehsana and 336 in Jamnagar city.

As many as 5,010 patients recovered and were given discharge, taking the tally of recovered cases to 3,55,875 at the recovery rate of 78.41 per cent.

Active cases rose to 92,084, of which 376 are on ventilator.

So far, 91.51 lakh persons in the state have been given the first dose of coronavirus vaccine while 17.07 lakh have been administered the second dose.

On Thursday, 53,393 persons received the first dose while 81,836 received the second dose.

In the adjoining Union Territory of Dadra Nagar Haveli and Daman & Diu, 262 new cases were reported.94 patients also recovered and were given discharge during the day.

Of 6,002 cases found in the union territory since the outbreak, four have died, 4,216 have recovered while 1,782 cases are active, said a release by the local administration.

Gujarat's COVID-19 figures are as follows: Positive cases 4,53,836, new cases 13,105, deaths 5,877, discharged 3,55,875, active cases 92,084 and people tested so far - figures not released.

The "second wave" of COVID-19 that is sweeping India is akin to a "third world war" and it can be won by developing herd immunity in the masses through vaccination drive, said a member of the Gujarat government's task force on the pandemic on Thursday.

The task force member, Dr V N Shah, also defended Gujarat government's stand of not imposing a full lockdown to break the chain of viral transmission in the state, which has been witnessing a surge in cases.

"This is the third World War. We are fighting against coronavirus."

"We can defeat this virus only by joining hands and understanding this disease properly," Shah, a well-known diabetologist, said at a press conference in Gandhinagar.

At the press meet, Shah was accompanied by other members of the task force and senior state government officials, including principal secretary (health and family welfare) Jayanti Ravi.

"The Centre has now allowed people above the age of 18 to get vaccinated (from May 1). It is important to bring in herd immunity."

"Many treatment protocols changed (after outbreak last year), because we did not know what would work. But ultimately, answer is vaccination. It will help us to develop herd immunity," he said.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), 'herd immunity' is the indirect protection from an infectious disease that happens when a population is immune either through vaccination or immunity developed through previous infection.

Shah defended the state government's stand of not imposing a total lockdown to bring down COVID-19 cases, saying it will prove disastrous for the poor.

"A lockdown is not in favour of the poor and lower middle class people. Moreover, the government imposed the lockdown last year because we did not know what we were fighting against.

"But now, we know how to give a fight. Thus, the government has done the right thing this time by not imposing a lockdown," Shah added.

During the press briefing, Ravi informed about the change in treatment protocol for coronavirus patients with mild symptoms.

After studying protocols of the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) other states, the Gujarat government has now added Ivermectin and Favipiravir tablets in the treatment protocol, Ravi said.

She said even the WHO has now said there is no evidence to prove Remdesivir, considered to be a key drug for COVID-19 patients and whose demand has shot up dramatically in the country, is effective in treating coronavirus.

Dr R K Patel, another senior member of the task force on COVID-19, urged people to wear face masks, saying it is more effective than the vaccine.

"Masks, particularly surgical ones, are more effective than vaccines. Masks will give you 100 per cent result. You should wear it even when you are at home," Patel said.

Timely detection of coronavirus is the key to recover from the infection, he said.

"Early diagnosis is the key for recovery. If you have mild symptoms, just stay home and start medications without waiting for RT-PCR test result," suggested Patel.

Meanwhile, misuse, overuse and hoarding are leading to shortages of the drug Remdesivir and "in reality there is no shortage", prominent medical professionals' organisations in Gujarat said on Thursday.

There were no studies to prove that Remdesivir "clears viral load or reduces the death rate in COVID-19 patients", they said in a release here.

Remdesivir, used for treating COVID-19, is in high demand and shortages are being reported from across the country.

The Gujarat State Branch of the Indian Medical Association, Ahmedabad Medical Association and Ahmedabad Hospitals and Nursing Homes Association issued an appeal on Thursday.

"Remdesivir is not recommended for patients with mild to moderate symptoms without supplemental oxygen requirement. It should be used when oxygen saturation in the body goes below 94 per cent on room air or the patient becomes breathless and gets tired after mild activity," the release said.

People should not take the drug without the advice of an expert doctor, it said.

"So in reality, there is no shortage. This shortage is due to misuse, overuse and hoarding of this drug. Do not use it without proper advice from your doctor," said the release.

Notably, Principal Secretary, Health, Jayanti Ravi also told reporters on Thursday that the World Health Organisation (WHO) had announced that there was no evidence that Remdesivir is an effective drug against coronavirus.

Union Home Minister Amit Shah will visit Gujarat on Friday to review the progress of an upcoming COVID-19 hospital in Ahmedabad city, the state government said on Thursday.

Equipped with 900 beds and having provision for ventilators and medical oxygen, the hospital is being set up inside a huge convention hall in the city.

If needed, 500 more beds can be added in the facility, being developed in collaboration with the Defence Research & Development Organisation (DRDO), said a release by the Gujarat government.

Shah is scheduled to visit the medical facility, which is almost complete, on Friday afternoon, said the release.

The state government had recently decided to convert the Gujarat University's Convention-cum-Exhibition Centre at GMDC Ground into a dedicated COVID-19 hospital with 900 oxygen and ICU beds.

Recently, the Union government had announced to depute 25 doctors and 75 paramedics from paramilitary forces for the hospital.



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