Lockdown relaxations: Guj CM dismisses communal 'propaganda'

Ahmedabad, Apr 26 (PTI) Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani on Sunday said the state government's move to allow conditional opening of shops had nothing to do with the holy month of Ramzan, as being alleged by 'some elements'.

Rupani's statement came a day after the BJP government allowed standalone shops, except those located in containment zones, malls and shopping complexes, to remain open.

However, it said on Sunday that no shops, apart from those dealing with essential items, will be allowed to open till May 3 during the coronavirus-induced lockdown in Ahmedabad, Surat, Vadodara and Rajkot cities.

In a video message to the public, Rupani said some elements were construing his government's decision to allow shops to remain open as its effort for the convenience of the Muslim community during the ongoing month of Ramzan.

'People ask that you are giving relaxations for the convenience of the Muslim community during the Ramzan month.

By doing so, some elements are playing politics and using propaganda to weaken fight against coronavirus. But they will not succeed.

'Our aim is to ensure the safety of 6.5 crore Gujaratis and to make sure they come out of the coronavirus crisis. We do not discriminate between Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs and Christians. We are fighting for all 6.5 crore Gujaratis,' Rupani said.

The CM's statement came amidst messages on social media saying that though the state government did not allow any relaxations in lockdown norms during Hindu festivals of Ramnavmi and Chitra Navratri, it is making exceptions during Ramzan.

'Such allegations are baseless, especially as most of the containment zones are located in the Muslim majority localities. As per the Central guidelines, no shops are allowed to remain open in the containment zones,' he said.

Only shops that are not located in containment zones, malls and shopping complexes were allowed to open as per the state government's order issued on Saturday.

On the government's directives on Sunday, Rupani said the administration was equally concerned about small shop owners and the rising number of coronavirus cases.

'The Central government came out with a notification for small businesses to start their shops. We said the Gujarat government will follow the Centre's guidelines. We received phone calls from traders saying there is no need to hurry.

'The Central government then came out with an amended notification saying state governments can make changes as per the ground situation, so we decided not to relax lockdown in four cities. We will wait for another six days in these four cities,' he said.

The CM said the COVID-19 recovery rate in Gujarat is 60 per cent.

'Any patient will have to undergo treatment for 14-15 days before they can be discharged from hospitals after testing negative for COIVD-19 twice,' the CM said, adding that 282 people who recovered up to Saturday had undergone treatment for 15 days.

There were 468 people admitted till April 11, out of who 282 were discharged, which means we have a 60 per cent recovery rate, he said.

Speaking about the high mortality rate, Rupani said 80 per cent of such patients suffered from comorbidities such as heart or lung diseases, diabetes, Cancer, TB etc.

'Out of 133 death till yesterday, 80 per cent suffered from comorbidities. Their immunity is already weakened,' he said. PTI KA PD NSK NSK