At least half the 7,033 Covid-19 cases and 115 deaths in Gujarat’s Rajkot have been reported in the past month, official data shows. State health department data shows that the number of cumulative cases increased from 3,289 on August 16 to 7,033 on September 16. The number of deaths rose to 115 from 54 during the same period.
Rajkot’s case fatality rate is the lowest in the state, however, there may likely be some discrepancy in the data. On September 3, a local Gujarati daily reported that 32 bodies were cremated/buried in Rajkot city the previous day as per Covid-19 protocols but only three deaths were recorded in Gujarat’s Covid-19 health bulletin.
Rajkot municipal commissioner Udit Mishra denied the possibility of death figures being hidden and said the death audit committee decides the cause of deaths. “Some people have confused routine deaths with Covid-19 deaths. This may be because suspected Covid-19 patients, who die, are cremated with Covid-19 protocol. We provide Covid-19 death figures as decided by the audit committee.”
Former president of the Rajkot Medical Association (RMA) Dr Chetan Lalseta said, “One should not attribute all deaths to Rajkot district. Many terminally ill patients coming from neighbouring districts also contribute to high death numbers in Rajkot.”
Still, the situation turned so bad that the Gujarat government had to rush its health secretary Jayanti Ravi with a team of health experts and doctors to the city on August 31 to bring the situation under control.
“All efforts are being made to reduce fatalities in Rajkot district. Around 15 doctors from other districts would be stationed here and additional ventilators would be provided,” news agency PTI quoted her as saying on August 31.
As the cases of infection rise exponentially, residents have gone into isolation.
“We had no option but to go for a self-imposed lockdown as cases were rising rapidly and lockdown is the only way to control the chain of transmission,” said Suresh Kumar, communications in-charge of the Rajkot Wholesale Textile Merchants Association.
He said the lockdown, though voluntary, is almost complete with essential good shops opening for limited hours every day. “There is a huge fear among people as the virus is spreading rapidly. People are not coming out of their homes voluntarily now,” he said.
Lalseta said a huge spike in Covid-19 cases was witnessed after the Janmasthami festival (August 11) when people gathered in large numbers despite restrictions imposed by the state government.
As the cases increased, he said, 160 of 300 registered doctors in the city were infected, hampering the disease management in the 170 sq km city. He, however, added that things look better now with 90 percent of them having recovered. On Thursday, Rajkot reported 46 new Covid-19 cases and one fatality.