Coronavirus: Third death in Bhavnagar, positive cases go up to 44; Gujarat to file status report

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People stand at a safe distance form each other outside a bank in CTM area, Ahmedabad, on Thursday. (Express photo: Javed Raja)

The third death due to COVID-19 was reported in the state, after a 70-year-old businessman died early on Thursday in Bhavnagar, after being admitted to the hospital only a day ago. So far, 44 positive cases were recorded in the state.
Efforts are on to trace those who came in contact with him even as the authorities cordoned off the locality in which the deceased, who was a "socially and politically active person", was living.

"We have been told he was very active politically and socially. He used to go out for prayers and it is possible he could have met people there. Since he was not keeping very well of late, people might have visited him at his residence also. As a precautionary measure, the locality where he was living has been cordoned off," said Bhavnagar Municipal Commissioner MA Gandhi.

Jayanti Ravi, Principal Secretary Health, said that the man had multiple co-morbid conditions, including cardiomegaly, diabetes, hypertension and malignancy. "If there are severe conditions, we do not medicate but rather try with medical management such as ventilator support," added Ravi.

Dr Vikas Sinha, Medical Superintendent of Sir Takhtasinhji General Hospital of Bhavanagar, said the man was first assessed in the OPD of the hospital, then shifted to an ICU and eventually to the isolation ward meant for COVID-19 patients where he eventually succumbed early this morning. His sample was sent for COVID-19 testing on Wednesday night and result was out on Thursday around 10 am.

The man was into construction and travels businesses. "He flew to Delhi on March 6 and returned on March 8. There was no history of foreign travel. When he returned to Bhavnagar, as per guidelines then, he was not required to be home-quarantined. However, after his health deteriorated, he was advised to be in quarantine on March 22," Gandhi added.

Sources said that the businessman travelled to Delhi where his son was admitted for a surgery on his leg. He drove to Ahmedabad for taking a flight to Delhi, flew back and again drove back to Bhavnagar. "Either on March 18 or 19, he called the fever helpline. He was examined but fever was the only symptom... After this, he was asked to be in self-quarantine," said a source.

The Collector said that six of his family members have been put under home-quarantine while the locality, where around 50 families live have also been cordoned off.

On Wednesday, Ahmedabad reported its first death after an 85-year-old woman who recently visited Saudi Arabia succumbed to COVID-19.

Ahmedabad reported a new positive patient, a 59-year-old woman who contracted the infection through local transmission and is admitted to SVP Hospital.

In Gandhinagar, clustering of local transmission was reported after a 26-year-old Dubai returned businessman infected his 81-year-old grandmother, 49-year-old father, 53-year-old uncle and 54-year-old aunt. The uncle who is a pharmacist at a PHC, has now infected his 75-year-old mother.

In Rajkot, a 37-year-old man tested positive who is suspected to have caught the infection from his friend, a 36-year-old man who recently returned from Dubai and tested positive for COVID-19 on March 24. "The patient was admitted to the isolation ward on Wednesday. Today his test results came positive," said Dr Mitesh Bhanderi, Chief District Health Officer of Rajkot.

Rajkot Municipal Commissioner Udit Agrawal said, "He is a friend of the man who tested positive yesterday. We knew this can happen and, therefore, we had taken precautions," Agrawal told The Indian Express, adding the man was quarantined after his friend tested positive.

COVID hospitals

Persons who test positive for coronavirus will henceforth be housed in the four designated hospitals for COVID-19 cases in Ahmedabad, Vadodara, Surat and Rajkot, said Principal Secretary Health, Jayanti Ravi. At present with only 44 positive cases in the state, "we are very comfortable in terms of space, infrastructure and staff", she said.

Rigorous screening and contact tracing is under way across the state through integrated diseases surveillance programme (IDSP). More than 2.7 crore persons have been surveyed in person or via telephone. Ravi added that they expect to complete surveillance in the next two to three days. At present, 20,304 persons have been quarantined, including 613 in government facilities and 124 others housed in private facilities.

In Vadodara city, the number of persons in home quarantine has gone up from 1,002 to 1,402. In Rajkot, as of Thursday evening, of 32 persons were in institutional quarantine while another 699 were under home quarantine. So far 787 samples have been tested.

Couple booked

Vadodara: The Vadodara police has booked a couple Dipak Patel, 40, and his wife Bhavika, 38, owners of Shri Shakti Provision store in old city area, under various sections of IPC and the Epidemic Disease Act after the couple, who was to be in home quarantine were found running their store during lockdown. The couple were booked under Sections of IPC 269, 270 (negligent act to spread infectious disease) and 271 (disobedience to quarantine rule) after receiving complaints from officers checking on the family. The family was asked to be in quarantine after their daughter Megha returned from a tour to Latvia in the European Union.

State to file status report on COVID-19 preparedness

The state government is expected to file a status report Friday before the Gujarat High Court which took suo motu cognisance to check the state’s preparedness for the COVID-19 outbreak. The state submitted before the HC last week on the importance of honouring home quarantine time to avoid an outbreak of COVID-19 in the state, and later began taking criminal actions on violators.

Presented before the division bench headed by the Chief Justice Vikram Nath, the order recorded the state’s emphasis on home quarantine.

“The state submitted that “what is most important is that anyone coming from outside who does not show any symptoms at the airport is allowed to go home after giving self declaration/undertaking that they would be in home quarantine for 14 days. However, the above three persons who were tested positive did not honour their self-declaration/undertaking, which resulted into their travelling from one place to other and possibly having passed the virus to a large number of persons,” was recorded in the court’s order.

Speaking to The Indian Express, advocate general Kamal Trivedi, who was appearing on behalf of the state, further appealed to honour the necessary home quarantine time, which many have been found to be flouting while finding ways around it.

The health department has since begun door-to-door surveys of homes and municipal corporations like Ahmedabad and Surat have facilitated home deliveries of essentials.

Hardik’s bail plea

The bail application of Congress leader Hardik Patel will be heard Friday at the Gujarat HC with arguments to be made via video conference with the judges, in view of the lockdown. Patel continues to be lodged at the Sabarmati Central jail in Ahmedabad after he was arrested a week ago in a three-year-old case by the Ramol police.