Amid the continued increase in COVID-19 cases in Gujarat, the state government, on Tuesday, decided to extend the lockdown in major cities till May 12. The lockdown was supposed to end on May 5.
The decision was taken at a high level core committee meeting, headed by Chief Minister Vijay Rupani at his residence in Gandhinagar on Tuesday evening.
A few smaller towns too are in the list of cities that are to continue the night curfew from 8pm to 6am. There are now 36 cities and towns in the state where restrictions have been imposed.
The decision comes on the day when the state reported 13,050 new cases in the last 24 hours that ended at 5pm on Tuesday. With this, the total number of cases has gone up to 6,20,472. Last 24 hours also saw 131 deaths, taking the toll in the state to 7,779.
As per latest figures, Gujarat now has 1,48,297 active cases.
Meanwhile, the state government has been facing criticism from the media, opposition and several other quarters over its alleged failure to provide adequate infrastructure, and lack of preparedness to tackle the increasing number of cases.
The spike in cases had prompted the government to announce the lockdown a week ago and restrict trade and business only to essential commodities in major cities of the state.
Extending the lockdown till May 12, the state government has also said offices will function at 50 per cent capacity and those violating the orders will be penalised. Industries will continue to function normally.
There have been reports of people dying due to lack of availability of oxygen beds in the state. Crematoria and cemeteries have reportedly been witnessing inflow of dead bodies round the clock.
In a bid to ease the situation, the state government had already allowed private nursing homes to admit COVID-19 patients. A week ago, it had also requested Reliance Foundation to set up a hospital in Jamnagar.
On Tuesday evening, Rupani inaugurated a 400-bed (with oxygen supply) facility set up by Reliance Foundation at Guru Gobindsinh Hospital. The facility will cater to cities and towns of Saurashtra region.
According to sources, in about a week’s time, 600 more oxygen beds will be added by Reliance Foundation. It is, however, not sure whether the facility will be set up at the same place or somewhere else.
Earlier, in Junagadh, Rupani said in the afternoon that the state government is preparing for the worst.
To control the number of cases, Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation has made it compulsory for any resident of Ahmedabad returning to the city to have a RT-PCR negative report (with a validity of 72 hours).
Places of worship will remain closed for the public and pooja and offerings will be done behind closed doors. Public transport will work at 50 per cent capacity.