Published on March 19, 2021

First anniversary of the first two Covid-19 cases in Gujarat

AHMEDABAD: On March 19 last year, Gujarat announced the dreaded arrival of Covid-19 virus as a 32-year-old man from Rajkot, who had returned after a trip from Medina to Mumbai, and 21-year-old girl from Surat, who had returned from London, tested positive for coronavirus. 365 days later, cases have reached 2.82 lakh, at an average of 774 cases daily.

Four days after the first case was reported, Gujarat recorded its first death – a 69-year-old man from Surat who succumbed to the infection on March 23. In 361 days, the state’s death toll has reached 4,433 at an average of 12 deaths daily. During the past year, Ahmedabad even became one of the major pandemic hotspots in the country, causing a central team to visit the city twice.

With Thursday witnessing 1,276 daily cases – a 99-day high, the state is again facing a surge. The government has partially closed down public places to prevent crowding. Night curfew has also been imposed on four major cities of Ahmedabad, Surat, Rajkot, and Vadodara that account for over two-thirds of the daily cases. 

How does the second year of pandemic for the state pan out?

Dr JP Modi, medical superintendent of Civil Hospital in Ahmedabad, said that medical infrastructure and personnel are more prepared to tackle the pandemic. “When the pandemic started, the medical fraternity had the least idea how it would pan out for a populous country like India. As we complete a year, we are optimistic as protocols are in place. We have trained doctors and staff, and there is better awareness so mortality rate is not likely to be as high as the first two surges,” he said.

But will life ever be back to ‘normal’? Dr Bharat Gadhvi, president of Ahmedabad Hospitals and Nursing Homes Association (AHNA), said that the third surge – after the first two in September and November – could have been avoided with better caution.

“After February, we have seen lax behaviour from almost all walks of life as if the pandemic has gone. How many of us make it a point to wear the mask when we are in public all the time? If we don’t want to witness lockdown-like restrictions again, we must be on our guard. The severity and mortality is less compared to the past two surges, but with the virus mutating, we are still not near the end,” he said, adding that AHNA is again starting its helpline and home care services.

The citizens of Ahmedabad witnessed ‘curfew’ after a long time. During the lockdowns, the queues for daily essentials were long, and travel restrictions quite frustrating. The pandemic messed with the psyche of several citizens, causing rise in domestic feud and depression.

Experts hope that one does not have to endure the phase again. “Most importantly, we have realised the importance of public health, surveillance for pandemic, and cleanliness. Good habits must continue,” said Dr Dileep Mavalankar, director of IIPH Gandhinagar.

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