14,327 new COVID-19 cases in Gujarat, 180 patients die; vaccination for 18-45 age group to start only by May 15

AHMEDABAD: Gujarat reported 14,327 new coronavirus cases on Thursday, which pushed its overall infection tally to 5,53,172, the state health department said.

As many as 180 patients died in the last 24 hours at various hospitals across the state, taking the death toll to 7,010, it said in a statement.

This is the highest one-day fatality count in the state so far.

Ahmedabad district recorded 25 deaths, followed by 22 in Surat, 21 in Rajkot, 18 each in Vadodara and Jamnagar and six in Bhavnagar.

Deaths were also reported in several other districts of the state.

Ahmedabad city registered 5,258 new COVID-19 cases in the last 24 hours, followed by 1,836 in Surat city, 639 in Vadodara city, 607 in Rajkot city, 511 in Mehsana, 386 in Jamnagar city, 356 in Surat district and 315 in Jamnagar district.

A total of 9,544 patients got discharge in the last 24 hours, taking the recovery count to 4,08,368.

With this, the state’s recovery rate stood at 73.82 per cent.

The total number of active cases has now gone up to 1,37,794.

Of these, 572 patients are on ventilator while 1,37,222 are stable.

So far, as many as 96.33 lakh persons in the state were given the first dose while 22.89 lakh were administered the second dose of COVID-19 vaccine in Gujarat, the statement said.

During the day, 62,026 persons received the first dose and 88,549 others got the second dose of coronavirus vaccine.

In the adjoining union territory of Dadra Nagar Haveli and Daman and Diu, as many as 218 new cases were reported in the last 24 hours, a release by the authorities said, adding that 138 patients recovered and got discharge during the day.

Out of the total 7,455 persons who tested coronavirus positive in the union territory since the outbreak of the pandemic, four have died, 5,221 have recovered and 2,230 cases are still active, a release by the UT administration said.

Gujarat’s COVID-19 figures are as follows: Positive cases 5,53,172, new cases 14,327, death toll 7,010, discharged 4,08,368, active cases 1,37,794 and people tested so far – figures not released.

Chaos prevailed outside a newly-inaugurated 900-bed COVID-19 hospital in Ahmedabad as people flocked there in large numbers since early morning on Thursday with a hope to secure admission for their ailing family members and relatives.

People unable to get beds for their relatives suffering from coronavirus were disappointed, while an auto- rickshaw driver rammed his vehicle into barricades put up near the hospital in a desperate attempt to enter the premises.

The COVID-19 Dhanvantari hospital has been set up by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) in collaboration with the Gujarat government in the premises of the Gujarat University Convention-cum-Exhibition Centre at GMDC ground here.

Following a rap from the Gujarat High Court, the state government had on Wednesday announced that coronavirus patients coming in private vehicles will be admitted to the hospital through a token system.

Ambulances carrying patients are allowed to straightway enter the hospital premises.

The government had announced that people need to collect a form from the hospital between 8 am and 9 am and submit it back with required documents to get a token.

The hospital will then call the patients, who have the token, as per the availability of beds, said a government release on Wednesday.

On learning about the new system from the media, hundreds of people, many unaware of rules, queued up outside the hospital with a hope to get a bed for their relatives down with COVID-19.

Many people came with critical COVID-19 patients, who were on oxygen support, in their cars and even in auto- rickshaws, hoping that admission would be quick.

However, people ran out of patience as soon as the form distribution stopped in an hour at 9 am.

An auto-rickshaw driver, after failing to get the token for his relative, rammed his vehicle into barricades put up near the hospital in a desperate attempt to enter the premises.

A video of the incident went viral on social media platforms.

An elderly woman, who claimed to be infected with COVID-19, said she has been running from one hospital to another since the last three days to get a bed for herself.

“I am a coronavirus patient and I have been sick for the last 20 days. But, no hospital is giving me a bed.”

“People running this hospital also refused to take me in. I am dying. Where would poor people go?” the woman told media persons.

Some people even claimed they were standing in the queue since 5 am in a hope to get the token.

“I came all the way from Vapi (around 350km from Ahmedabad) to get a bed for my mother. The government said this hospital has 900 beds. But, no one is ready to give me one bed,” said a distressed man.

“People sitting on the helpdesk are not replying to our questions. We are also not allowed to go in to check how many beds are actually occupied.”

“Though several critical patients are waiting outside the gate, the hospital says no one will be taken in without a token,” said an Ahmedabad resident.

In its defence, the government said 380 patients have already been given admission and the token system has eliminated long queues of private vehicles outside the facility and reduced the hardships faced by people.

To serve the patients well, as many as 104 doctors and 300 housekeeping staff and wardboys have been appointed for the hospital, said a government release.

The release said 125 patients were admitted through the token system on the first day on Thursday.

Critical patients were admitted without going through the token system, it added.

Chief Minister Vijay Rupani on Thursday made it clear that the COVID-19 vaccination drive for the 18-45 age group in the state will start latest by May 15 instead of the first day of the next month.

Earlier in the day, the state government said that the process to vaccinate people of this age group will begin once it gets substantial number of vaccines from pharmaceutical companies, which had triggered speculation whether the state would miss the May 1 launch date of the inoculation drive for this category.

The registration process for the vaccination of people from this category has begun in the state.

However, the pharma companies to which the state government has given orders for vaccine doses are yet to deliver them.

The Centre had announced that those in 18-45 age group can get vaccines from May 1.

“Vaccination for 18-45 age group will begin once we get substantial doses of vaccines from the pharma companies, which is likely to happen soon. Latest by May 15, the drive will start as we expect to get vaccine doses any time before that date,” Rupani said in his social media address to thestate for the fourth phase of the inoculation drive.

He appealed to the youths to get themselves registered for the drive and said that getting vaccinated was a very important step in the fight against the pandemic.

“Earlier, we had ordered 1.5 crore doses of vaccine, but now we have increased it to 2.5 crore doses. We have placed orders of two crore doses of Covishield vaccines from Serum Institute of India and 50 lakh doses of Covaxin from Bharat Biotech,” he added.

“Gujarat has been one of the leading states in the first phase of vaccination for health workers, in the second phase for frontline workers and in the third phase for those above 45 years of age. We have so far given 1.20 crore doses of vaccine to our population,” the chief minister said.

In the fourth phase also, the state intends to lead the country and vaccinate maximum number of people, he said.

“Once we get the required stock to launch the drive, it will go on uninterruptedly,” Rupani added.

He further said that third vaccine Sputnik-V is also coming to India soon, which will boost the supply.

“We are going to provide free vaccines to all above 18 years of age from government-run facilities and preparations for it have been completed,” he said.

On Sunday, the state government had announced that starting May 1, it would provide free of cost COVID-19 vaccines to those between 18 and 45 years of age.

In a statement issued earlier in the day, the state health department said, “The process of registration for the age group of 18 to 45 has begun on CoWIN portal from Wednesday as per the announcement of the central government.

“For this phase, the state-run and private hospitals have to directly procure vaccines from pharma companies,” it said.

It had said that the vaccination drive for those above 45 years will continue as before.

For those above 45 years of age, the Centre is procuring vaccines from pharma companies and providing them to states.

On Wednesday, the Maharashtra government had said that it would not be able to launch the 18-45 age group vaccination drive from May 1 due to the shortage of vaccines.