Politics

24 Omicron cases in a day as Gujarat Covid tally goes up by 204


Gujarat is rapidly adding new Covid-19 cases daily with rampant non-adherence to protocols being reported. As many as 204 new cases were reported on Monday, the highest single-day surge in Omicron cases with 24 patients being detected with the variant. Seven of the new Omicron cases had no travel history, indicating local transmission of the variant. The Omicron tally in the state now stands at 73.

BJP general secretary of Surat city, Kishor Bindal, and Surat city Deputy Mayor Dineshbhai Jodhani, who were present in a series of political events in Surat on Sunday tested positive for Covid on Monday, while BJP president of Surat district Sandip Desai, who also participated in the ruling party’s event in Surat district on December 25, tested positive the next day. Bindal and Jodhani are fully vaccinated.

Officials of the Surat Municipal Corporation (SMC) conducted a Covid test on 40 BJP workers, the reports of which are awaited even as Surat city reported 22 cases on Monday. Surat city Mayor Hemali Boghawala tested negative.

Sandip Desai attended various party events on Saturday along with state cabinet minister Purnesh Modi and BJP MLA of Choryasi, Jankhana Patel. A source said that Modi and Jankhana are stable with no symptoms.

On December 25, the state BJP president CR Paatil, Surat city Mayor Hemali Boghawala and other BJP leaders participated in an event to felicitate sanitation workers as corona warriors at the indoor stadium in Surat, where over 2,700 sanitation staff were present. A 50-year-old sanitation worker who was present at the event tested positive on Sunday and is in home isolation, said an SMC health official.

On Sunday, a series of public events were held in Surat that were attended by CM Bhupendra Patel, CR Paatil, home minister Harsh Sanghavi, state ministers Vinubhai Moradiya and Mukesh Patel, and Union minister of State for Railways and textiles Darshana Jardosh and other BJP leaders, including Kishor Bindal and Dinesh Jodhani.

Talking to The Indian Express, Jardosh said, “My health is normal and I was present in the event in which the two BJP leaders who turned up positive today were also present. I have not undergone Covid test today, as I have already done it two days ago and my report was negative.”

Paatil said, “My health is alright. I have not undergone Covid test today. In the events held in Surat on Sunday, attendance was limited and social distancing was also maintained.”

On Monday, those tested positive in Surat include two Class 11 students of Vidhya Kunj school in Rander and two students of KP Commerce college and DRB Bhana College at Athwalines and Vesu. With this, 40 students tested positive for Covid in Surat this month.

Surat city also reported one more Omicron case on Monday with a 32-year-old diamond trader who returned from Botswana a few days ago being detected with the variant.

SMC Deputy health commissioner Dr Ashish Naik said, “The condition of the diamond trader is stable and he is in a private hospital. We have conducted tests on 61 people who came in contact with him and they all turned negative. Three cases of Omicron were reported in Surat city so far.”

Valsad reported a Covid death on Monday. A 60-year-old woman died late Saturday night but the state bulletin did not reflect the fatality. The district has recorded seven Covid deaths this month.

The state government has been holding a series of events as part of “Good Governance Week”, from December 26 to 31 and “Nadi Utsav” from December 26 to 30, where several elected leaders are seen without adhering to Covid protocols.

Chief Minister Bhupendra Patel paid a surprise visit to Gandhinagar Civil Hospital on Monday to take stock of the Covid arrangements, while Gujarat Health Minister Rushikesh Patel assured that the state government is “prepared to tackle a possible third wave”.

Ahmedabad district, comprising city and rural jurisdictions, recorded 100 cases — a first since early June and nearly double the cases the district reported a day ago. Ahmedabad city also reported 13 cases of the Omicron variant, with nine of them with international travel history and others with no travel history.

Gandhinagar also added four Omicron cases, all with international travel history, while Bharuch and Amreli reported their first cases of the variant on Monday.

Three Omicron cases were detected in Rajkot with no travel history while in Anand, the variant was reported in a woman with international travel history. The state has now detected the variant in 13 of the total 41 district and municipal corporation jurisdictions.

In Vadodara, several BJP elected representatives were spotted without face masks at a government event on Monday even as the district recorded 17 new cases of Covid and one case of Omicron, the first from the rural jurisdiction of the district. Vadodara city has so far reported 17 Omicron cases.

The event, held in Vadodara’s Pandit Deen Dayal Auditorium on Ajwa Road, was part of the Good Governance Week celebrations, where Gujarat state Women and Child Welfare Minister Manisha Vakil launched multiple women’s support portals and mobile apps.

MLAs Seema Mohile, Yogesh Patel, and Shailesh Mehta along with Vadodara city Mayor Keyur Rokadia, standing committee chairman Hitendra Patel, BJP city unit chief Dr Vijay Shah and elected BJP corporators of the Vadodara Municipal Corporation (VMC) were present. However, almost all BJP leaders, except MLA Yogesh Patel, were spotted without face masks.

When contacted, Vakil told The Indian Express that the leaders did not wear masks because it was a stage event. Vakil said, “I did not wear mask as it was a stage event… It is wrong to assume that if elected representatives do not wear masks, people will also not wear it… There is a rule in place and it is the same for all.”

BJP MLA Seema Mohile said that she would be “careful about setting a good example”. “I did carry a mask but it did not occur to me as no one was wearing it. I will be mindful and set a better example as an elected representative.”

BJP city unit chief Dr Vijay Shah refused to comment on the issue while Mayor Keyur Rokadia was unavailable. Vadodara Commissioner of Police Shamsher Singh was not reachable for comment.





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