Covid cases surge: ‘Three with no travel history had UK variant’

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Of the five samples that were sent from Gujarat to the National Institute of Virology (NIV) in March, three tested positive for the UK variant mutation of Covid-19. However, the three “had no travel history or history of contact (with a known UK variant Covid 19 positive patient)”, according to Dr Dipa Kinariwala, microbiologist at the BJ Medical College affiliated to the Ahmedabad Civil Hospital.

As Covid cases continued to surge rapidly with Gujarat reporting 11,403 cases and 117 deaths on Monday, and the administration and medical experts attributing the surge to new variants, evidence to support it remains sparse. Genome sequencing result of samples sent to NIV on April 1 is still awaited.

At BJ Medical College where one of the city’s key viral research and diagnostics laboratory (VRDL) is situated, around 1,700 samples are being tested, of which nearly 130-odd samples turn out to be positive. Of these, 600 were of the hospital’s in-patients.

In April, 16 more samples from BJMC’s lab were sent to NIV Pune for genome sequencing, including samples of two doctors of Civil Hospital who tested positive after completing two doses of Covid-19 vaccine and despite reporting more than sufficient levels of antibodies. The results are awaited. “We will send more samples this week… NIV Pune is sequencing a lot of samples from several states hence the wait,” Dr Kinariwala said.

The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare in a communication on March 20 to all states, had noted that genome sequencing of five per cent of positive samples from the community is “must” for “evidence-based action at the field level. Dr Kinariwala explained that quality and quantity of sample matters too. “A sample with high viral load is preferred for sequencing.”

While most hospitals in Ahmedabad city continued to run at full capacity, LG Hospital in Maninagar, only 50 per cent of Covid beds were occupied as of Monday morning. As per assistant resident medical officer (ARMO) Dr Gopal Desai, of the 300 beds, including 30 ventilator-equipped ones, provisioned for Covid-19 treatment, about 150 beds were occupied.

On the other hand, 93 per cent of the beds at Ahmedabad Medicity campus were occupied, including 1,168 patients occupying the 1,200-bed Covid unit of Ahmedabad Civil Hospital. Of the total patients at the Ahmedabad Medicity campus, nearly 80 per cent (1,943) of them are either on oxygen support or ventilator.

Ahmedabad city on Monday reported 4,207 new cases and 23 deaths.

In Vadodara city, where 426 cases and eight deaths were reported, a 22-year-old pregnant woman from the Makarpura area who collapsed on Saturday and was declared dead at a private hospital, tested positive for Covid-19, officials of the Makarpura police station confirmed.
The woman, who was in her second trimester, was taken to SSG Hospital, where doctors pronounced her dead. Makarpura police on Monday confirmed that the woman tested positive for Covid-19.

Among those who tested positive on Monday was BJP candidate Nimisha Suthar, who contested the Morva Hadaf assembly by-election on April 17.

In Santrampur sub-jail in Mahisagar district, 23 undertrials have tested positive for Covid19. Three inmates tested positive on Saturday, following which samples of all 76 inmates were tested. The infected inmates have been moved to the Santrampur health centre. The jail, which has a capacity of 60 inmates has 76 inmates at present, thus making social distancing and adherence to Covid-19 protocols difficult, officials said.

An armed police constable attached to Wadi police station in Vadodara, Ashwin Patel, who died Monday while undergoing treatment for a liver ailment at a private hospital, tested positive for Covid-19. His pregnant wife has also tested positive Covid-19.

BJP MLA from Udhna, in Surat Vivek Patel, who was involved in the party’s distribution of Remdesivir, also tested positive and is under home quarantine.

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