Covid-19 cases spike in Ahmedabad’s posh West Zone, residents cry foul

Residents of Sachin Tower in the West Zone have alleged that the government put them under micro-containment based on rumours spread on social media


With 572 fresh cases on June 24, 2020, the Gujarat Covid-19 count breached the 29,000 mark. There are currently 6,169 cases in the state, with the death toll having reached 1,736 percent. However, what has come to light is that within a month, in Ahmedabad, the caseload of the patients has shifted from the walled city of Old Ahmedabad which falls in the Central Zone to the posh West Ahmedabad area, reports The Indian Express.

Spike in West Zone

Old Ahmedabad was recently freed of containment and it was reported that the west zone had sprouted the most cases. On June 20, the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation (AMC) identified new micro-containment areas. Out of the 30 new spots, 10 were in the west zone, including areas in Sabarmati, Chandkheda, Naranpura, Ranip and Nava Vadaj with a population of over 2,550 people. The northwest and southwest zones added nine more micro containment areas including in Vejalpur, Bodakdev, Thaltej and Jodhpur. These included residential societies such as Galaxy Apartment and Satellite Centre in Bodakdev, where nearly 380 households with an approximate population of over 1,400 persons have been contained, and another 1,200 persons contained in Sachin Tower in Jodhpur. Two floors in a single block of Malabar County in Chandlodia and one entire block in Shrinandnagar of Vejalpur, too, were included under micro containment zones.

Out of the total 3,113 active cases in the city, the West Zone currently has 678 active cases or 21.8 percent of the city’s caseload. This, while the Central Zone has the lowest cases at 213 or 6.8 percent, as per the AMC.

Protests by West Zone residents

The announcement of these micro-containment areas, which see a high population of middle and upper caste Hindus, saw residents protesting over them becoming targets on social media due to the same. The residents of Sachin Tower and Galaxy Apartments complained to the AMC about the ‘stigma’ on account of being listed on the website, IE reported.

However, speaking to the Indian Express, AMC deputy municipal commissioner of South West zone, GH Solanki, said, “The residents of Sachin Tower were not aware of the guidelines of micro-containment zones initially and they objected. They complained that they were being targeted on social media. But after officials met them and made them understand, they agreed to abide by the norms,” adding that an auxiliary nurse midwife and domestic help residing in the nearby slums had tested positive.

Yet, on social media, residents of Sachin Tower have been opposing the containment saying that due to rumours, their society had been put under containment.

TV Gujarati too reported on the issue saying that residents were protesting about the move as they claimed there were no active cases in the society. They said that it was difficult to carry out daily tasks due to the restrictions. Residents said that while on some app it was reported there were 28 active cases, on social media it was reported that there were 50-100 cases. Accusing the government of committing a mistake by giving in to rumours, residents said that it was now covering up by saying that the residents weren’t cooperating with the authorities.

Residents of Galaxy Apartments in Bodakdev ward where 10 cases were reported, also objected, but Kantibhai Patel, the councillor said that he had spoken to them and assured them that the step had been taken for their safety.

Hinting at discrimination, Imran Khedawala, the ward councillor for Jamalpur which was one of the worst affected areas in the Central Zone, told IE, “When Jamalpur and other walled city areas were under containment, the entire area was sealed with barricades and metal sheets. When I was tested positive, the entire area was sealed and residents were not even allowed to go out for essentials. That is not the case now. We were watched under 24 hour police vigil, while there is no police deployment outside micro containment zones now. The rules seem different for residents in the western parts of the city.” The area had seen strict containment after residents there were found to have taken part in the Tablighi Jamaat congregation which became a hotspot and target of communal hatred by the media and society alike.

Possible reasons for spike

Ahmedabad Mirror had reported that the Central Zone in Ahmedabad comprising areas like Jamalpur, Dariapur, Kalupur and Khadia among others was under strict lockdown from March 24 to May 31. The ability to cordon off large areas due to the spatial arrangement led to a gradual decrease in cases, from 1,348 cases on May 8 to 382 active cases on June 9. One reason for the spike in cases in the West Zone, officials told Mirror, could be the lax of safety exercised by residents due to Unlock 1. Deputy Municipal Commissioner Om Prakash Machhra told Mirror, “We carried out active surveillance in the Central Zone during the lockdown. Besides, cases were being reported from specific pockets here. So, we were able to demarcate containment zones effectively. But in the western areas, the cases are being reported from scattered locations and so, creating containment zones is not easy. However, the surveillance is on. Our Dhanvantri mobile vans also visit 400 locations across the city to carry out testing of suspected cases.”

Overall situation in Gujarat concerning

On June 24, 2020, the State saw 575 people being discharged and 25 people succumbing to the virus. The state had conducted 5,754 tests on Wednesday. Ahmedabad had reported 205 new cases taking the total caseload to 19,601, Surat, 162 with total cases going up to 3,712 and Vadodara, 35 taking the total cases to 1,985, the Health Department said. It also reported that 70 people were on ventilators currently while 6099 patients were stable.

The Hindustan Times also reported that traces of the virus had been found in sewage samples in Gujarat, prompting the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) to consider strengthening surveillance and study on whether contaminated sewage could cause infections. The agency is using the same lab and its surveillance system which it used in its fight against the poliomyelitis virus.

An official told HT, ““Studies show that the virus does travel to the gut in a Covid person with a high viral load. It is not unexpected to find the presence of this virus in sewage. What the surveillance system will be monitoring, however, is that if the contamination in the sewage system is happening to the extent that it will lead to transmission of the disease.”

Prior to this, scientists from the Indian Institute of Technology in Gandhinagar who had collaborated with the Gujarat Biotechnology Research Centre had found traces of the virus in the wastewater collected from one of the wastewater treatment plants in Ahmedabad.  


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