Gujarat reported a sharp spike in COVID-19 cases, adding 308 positive cases and 16 deaths in a single day is obviously shocking for a vibrant state of India, the home state of PM Modi. So far, the State has a total of 4082 positive cases and 197 deaths. Today, 93 patients were discharged, totalling 527 recoveries so far. Only Ahmedabad recorded 234 cases and 9 deaths, taking the total numbers to 2777 & 137 respectively. So far, 263 have recovered in the city, including 22 on last Wednesday. As on 29th evening 3324 cases are stable and 34 patients are getting treatment on ventilator. Obviously, worries are beginning to mount whether Gujarat will also witness a significant outbreak in the days ahead. This is despite the sweeping measures put in place by the state government.
Effective action plan and it’s implementation
The war against COVID-19 has opened a battlefront everywhere. Including unprecedented lockdown, the state government immediately worked out a strategy to combat the virus. It. Gujarat CM Vijay Rupani and his government did not delay to execute it. For policy decisions, the Chief Minister constituted a core committee including himself, Deputy Chief Minister Nitin Patel, Minister of State (Home) Pradipsinh Jadeja, Chief Secretary Anil Mukim and some other senior officials. This committee meets daily to take stock of the situation and direct their respective teams for responsive actions. Since the state has 4 regional centres, the CM appointed senior officials as in-charge of different regions to ensure effective implementation of tasks undertaken to address the pandemic situation. Senior bureaucrats are made in-charge of the preparations for COVID-19 hospitals and COVID Care Centres across the state. Similar tasks have been assigned to Industries Commissioner for Rajkot, Education Secretary for Vadodara and Vadodara Municipal Commissioner for Surat, based on their respective previous stints in these regions. For smooth functioning of procurement procedures, a committee is constituted with a Principal Secretary, Additional Chief Secretary Finance, Science and Technology Secretary and senior health department officials as its members.
It is important that there is no shortage or blockage in the availability of the essential supplies – food grains, fruits, vegetables, milk and basic medical supplies including masks and sanitizers. This is being addressed by a committee formed with Secretary, Food and Civil Supplies Secretary and Animal Husbandry and Cooperation Secretary as its members. Officials of Food and Civil Supplies department along with the Police administration are ensuring that essential commodities are transported smoothly, and reach the needy.
As far as public awareness is concerned, Gujarat government had made arrangements to brief media on daily basis before the lockdown was announced. The state government is organizing regular press conferences at Gandhinagar, where officials brief the media on essential supplies and any other decision or announcement by the state government, status of COVID cases in the state, Law & order situation etc.
Strategy that ensures desired goal
The strategy of Rupani government is multi-pronged. First, it identified the hotspots and sealed them under cluster containment strategy. Second is the aggressive testing in the highly infected areas to be able to identify the infected people and isolate them, to contain the spread of the virus. For instance, in an intensive door-to-door testing drive in Ahmedabad, the state government put more than 750 teams of health officials for 7 consecutive days in the hotspots areas of Ahmedabad, while in Surat, it used 666 teams to conduct a similar door-to-door drive in hotspots for 3 days. Officials are hopeful to see a flattening of the COVID-19 cases curve, and the state will be able to contain the spread.
The third step is proper treatment of the infected people. For this, the state government has started dedicated COVID-19 hospitals across the state. In fact, Gujarat is the first state to open COVID-19 hospitals with a cumulative capacity of 2200-beds in it’s four major cities in the month of March itself. Today, the state has more than 61 COVID-19 hospitals, including 31 private hospitals where the treatment expenses are borne by the government, with a capacity of 10,500 beds with 1500 ICU beds and 1500 ventilators. Very soon, the government will expand the capacity to 22,500 beds, including 10,000 beds in COVID Care Centres. Not only that, government is ensuring that the lockdown is followed stringently. Gujarat Police is ensuing that people step out only in case of essentials.
The government, however, has not let this lockdown affect it’s supplies of essential items. Food grains, food items, fruits, vegetables, milk, medicines and other medical supplies are available in sufficient quantity across the state. Through a strong supply-chain mechanism, the state government has ensured that the shelves of shop owners have enough supplies and people are able to access them.
Plasma transfusion treatment – A hope?
The Gujarat government has decided to carry out plasma transfusion treatment on COVID-19 patients in the state, particularly those in critical condition, to boost their immunity. Govt. of Gujarat and ICMR signed an MOU for conducting plasma therapy on the 18th of April, 2020. On the 19th of April, Smruti Thakkar the first patient to recover donated plasma at SVP hospital. The process was conducted by Dr. Nidhi Bhatnagar. At present, Gujarat has conducted therapy on 2 patients. According to sources, the patients are responding to the treatment and their oxygen requirement has decreased. Though the health ministry, Government of India recently has said in a press briefing that currently plasma therapy is at experimental stage and there is no evidence yet to support that it can be used as treatment for COVID-19.
Outreach by the CM Vijay Rupani
CM Vijay Rupani has set up a dashboard at his official residence in Gandhinagar. This dashboard is playing an important role in present corona battle. Normally through this dashboard, CM monitor the development of district level activities of different schemes launched by state government. Under CM dashboard 16 sectors such as Revenue, Agriculture, Health, Education, other public oriented schemes, Energy, Road and Building are covered through around 450 indicators. This dashboard is prepared by compilation of CM office, N.I.C, Planning Division and Science & Technology Department. As many as 94 M.I.S databases are being integrated on one platform. Review and Evaluation of daily, weekly and monthly activities of different schemes operated by central and state government are being monitored directly with the functioning of CM dashboard. Mr. Rupani take a review of the activities and also guide directly to the District Collector for taking appropriate steps.
Using this well-established platform of CM Dashboard, the CM Vijay Rupani has reached out to various sections of the society, members of the government, the civil society and the citizens. Rupani has spoken to the patients and home quarantine people using Jan-Samvaad service of the CM Dashboard. The initiative has helped the CM to have a direct interaction with the patients and quarantined people. CM has assured them of all possible help. It has sent a strong message to the citizens of the state that the Chief Minister and the state government is closely observing the situation and is concerned about the well-being of each citizen. The Chief Minister also spoke to the doctors, nurses, paramedical staff of various hospitals across the state, who are fighting this battle at the frontline. Similarly, the Chief Minister also interacted with the Police personnel stationed at various places and assured them of all possible support and help. In addition to that the CM also contacted spiritual leaders like Morari Bapu, Rameshbhai Oza and local leaders such as Sarpanch of village panchayats and informed them about the people-centric work done by the state government.
People and Proactive Government
Vijay Rupani’s government is known as transparent, sensitive, decisive and progressive among Gujarati people. People like his Chief Minister because of his down to earth approach. People admire him for his simplicity and generosity. Gujarat is one of the few states in the country that has drawn such industrial policies, making it the most preferred destination not only for investors of the country, but also for the foreign investors. farmers are the pulse of the nation, and the adage is no different for Gujarat. Time and again, the state government through it’s policies and schemes has reiterated its commitment towards its farmers. Pioneering policies, innovative schemes and programs and technology intervention has worked like health supplements for the hard work of the Gujarat, contributing to the historic growth of the agriculture sector and farmers’ income. Gujarat is rapidly developing in the infrastructure sector with its visionary planning and fast-paced approvals of development plans and town planning schemes through transparency in administration. Gujarat is emerging as the education hub of India which ‘study in Gujarat’ campaign. The campaign invites students from across the globe to study in the safe and Secure environment of Gujarat and engage in cultural exchanges in this massive diversity. Youth empowerment is the focal point of development for Gujarat and through skill development and ample apprenticeship opportunities under Mukhya Mantri apprenticeship Yojana, Gujarat has the highest number of registered units and highest apprentice engagement during 2018-19 in India.
Now the Corona virus is making waves all over the world and It is natural that India and Gujarat cannot be excluded from it. Gujarat is a different state. During the battle of COVID-19, Gujarat government has quietly, but effectively, responded to this pandemic at multiple levels. The manner in which proactive measures have been taken by Gujarat government is exemplary across the nation.
This article was published in The Sunday Guardian dated May 3, 2020.