Covid-19: Surat diamond industry grounded as 700 workers get infected
With over 700 workers getting infected with the coronavirus in the last couple of weeks, Surat's famed diamond industry, which was trying to emerge from the gloom following over two months lockdown, has been grounded yet again with the city continues to turn into a new hotspot for the virus in the state.
On Tuesday, Surat topped the district-wise list with highest 199 cases in 24 hours period, leaving Ahmedabad (198), the worst-hit city, behind for the first time since the pandemic broke out, prompting the authorities to shut down businesses for a week now in areas-Varachha, Katargam, and Sarthana- where the majority of diamond units are located.
Officials said that although in terms of numbers the situation is "under control" in Surat what is worrying is the increasing number of new cases daily. They said that till mid-June, the number of daily cases were in two digits but from June 20 the number shot up in three digits for the first time and since then it is rising every day.
Till Tuesday evening, Surat's total caseload was 4,735, and the number of casualties stood at 158. The number makes the city second worst affected after Ahmedabad that has over 20,000 caseloads and 1441 deaths.
On June 29, Surat district had recorded its highest 206 cases, its biggest single-day spike. This is the reason after many of the diamond units decided to voluntarily close their operations, the authority has now ordered to shut all of them. The local administration is said to have screened over 18,000 diamond workers.
"All diamond units have been shut for a week in view of the rising cases. So far, the virus has been detected in 702 workers who were working in 89 units," Surat Municipal Commissioner Banchhanidhi Pani told DH.
As a matter of fact, the diamond units resumed work earlier this month after the lockdown was eased with conditions to use less 50% of total staff, which they said, is not viable for most of the units as it makes the business expenses.
Meanwhile, the principal secretary, health, Jayanti Ravi visited the city on Tuesday and reviewed the situation, second time in less than 10 days. She told reporters that the "possibility of rising numbers could be ascertained to diamond units where workers sit closely due to the kind of infrastructure they have." She said that hospitals are being equipped to handle the crisis and 100 ventilators will be dispatched from Ahmedabad.
"This is a really tough time for everyone. We had started limited operation barely few weeks ago and now we are shutting down the business since a lot of our workers are getting infected. Our infrastructure (polishing and cutting rough diamonds) is such that workers sit closely that makes them prone to getting infected with the virus," Babubhai Kathiria, President of Surat Diamond Association.
Meanwhile, Gujarat recorded 620 new cases in 24 hours and 20 deaths, taking the total to 32,643 and 1848 respectively. The number of discharged patients stood at 23,670 while total tests conducted until Tuesday were 3,73,663.