coronavirus: There is no community transmission in Gujarat: Vijay Rupani

Gujarat has seen a sudden increase in Covid-19 cases because of a couple of reasons but there is no community transmission, Chief Minister Vijay Rupani tells ET in an interview conducted over telephone and email. Edited excerpts:

Gujarat now has the second highest number of positive cases in the country. How did this sudden increase come about?

We started tracking possible cases from March 1 itself. We identified 30,000 people with international travel history and contacted their friends and families. By the time we traced those who had entered Gujarat after attending the Tablighi Jamaat event in Delhi, they had already come in contact with others. This led to a sudden spike in the numbers. Most of them came to Ahmedabad. In fact, majority of the cases from Ahmedabad are from residential areas of the people who attended that event. Our testing capacity has also been increased manifold. Our health workers are going door-to-door to test people in the hotspots. This also added to the rise in numbers.

Does the sharp rise indicate community transmission?

There is no community transmission in Gujarat. If people in Gujarat and across the country continue to follow lockdown rules, we will never reach that stage.

What will the government do to stop migrants from returning home? How will you win their confidence?

We have already resumed work at industries outside the limits of municipalities and municipal corporations. We have directed factory owners to provide accommodation to workers within their units. Some 40,000 industrial units have restarted work in the state, employing more than 5 lakh labourers. Apart from providing essential items to workers and migrant labourers, I ensured that the workers were not fired and that they got their wages. The state government will continue to ensure the well-being of migrant workers till the crisis is eliminated from Gujarat. I am confident that they will stay back and continue to work here, especially as the cases decrease.

What is the government doing for farmers who are facing hardships?

Apart from reopening our agricultural produce market committee, we provided farmers an advance of Rs 2,000 under the Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi Yojana — totaling about Rs 800 crore. We have given a two-month extension on their short-term loans and we are bearing the interest during this extended period. Farmers have been given special permission to start sowing and harvesting. We will start the purchase of rabi crops at minimum support price from April 27. We have ensured coordination at the district level so that the farmers who transport materials and harvest do not face issues with the police.

There are reports of segregation of Hindu and Muslim patients in Ahmedabad civil hospital. Is it true?

Gujarat government has been working tirelessly with the mantra of Sabka Saath Sabka Vikas for the past decade and a half. The pandemic does not discriminate based on religion or caste. The medical wards are specified on the basis of age, gender, medical history and severity of Covid-19 infection. Such allegations of discrimination are completely baseless.

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