A newly appointed team of bureaucrats took charge of Gujarat's Ahmedabad, which was placed under complete lockdown from midnight as an emergency measure to control the spiraling cases of coronavirus. Five additional companies of para-military forces arrived in the city, where only milk and medicine shops will open for a week to rigorously enforce social distancing rules. From Saturday, a similar lockdown will be enforced in Surat, where more than 750 cases have been reported.
Till last evening, Ahmedabad reported 4,425 COVID-19 cases – a chunk of the state's 6,625 cases. With 273 people dying, the mortality rate is 6.1 per cent - almost double the national average of around 3.3 per cent, unidentified officials told news agency PTI. After Maharashtra, Gujarat has the highest number of coronavirus cases in the country.
The imposition of lockdown in Ahmedabad, however, was preceded by a bout of rule-breaking and panic buying as people rushed to markets to stock upon essential supplies. Many areas reported chaotic scenes with long queues outside shops and roadside vegetable carts. Social distancing norms were flouted and lockdown guidelines which bar movement from 7pm to 7am were also not followed.
With Vijay Nehra, the Municipal Commissioner going into quarantine after coming in contact with coronavirus patient, Mukesh Kumar, vice-chairman and chief of Gujarat Maritime Board has stepped in.
Rajiv Kumar Gupta, additional chief secretary of the Forests and Environment department, will supervise and coordinate coronavirus-related activities in the city.
In its clampdown order yesterday, the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation said supermarkets, grocery stores and vegetable carts have become a potent source of infection and they will be shut till May 15.
Delivery of food ordered online was also banned, with the civic body saying the delivery persons of apps like Swiggy and Zomato can also spread infection.
Private hospitals and clinics in the city have been told to reopen or face action. Most private clinics and hospitals had shut after the lockdown was imposed on March 25.
The civic body has also decided to designate nine private hospitals with aggregate capacity of 1,000 beds as COVID hospitals under the Epidemic Diseases Act.