Vibrant Gujarat summit postponed due to Covid-19 surge

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The Gujarat government on Thursday postponed the 10th edition of the Vibrant Gujarat Global Investors Summit (VGGIS) in the wake of the spike in Covid-19 cases, especially in the twin city of Ahmedabad-Gandhinagar. The high-profile event was to be held from January 10 to 12 at Mahatma Mandir in Gandhinagar.

After a high-level review meeting over the Covid-19 situation, the Chief Minister Bhupendra Patel’s office issued a statement saying, “The new variant of coronavirus, Omicron, has been seen among the fresh cases of Covid-19 in Gujarat. The state administration is taking precautions by treating patients and creating isolation arrangements for them … Considering the overall situation and … keeping welfare of all citizens of the state in mind, the chief minister has decided to postpone the VGGIS 2022 for the time being.”

As of Thursday morning, Gujarat had reported more than 3,350 new Covid-19 cases, which included over 50 Omicron cases. As per the state health department, there are nearly 8,000 active cases in Gujarat. Of these, around 10% patients have been hospitalised, with most patients showing only mild symptoms, an official of the state home department said.

Gujarat education minister and government spokesperson Jitu Vaghani said the summit hasn’t been cancelled, but put on hold. Revenue minister Rajendra Trivedi said the move is a precautionary measure in the larger interest of citizens.

Five senior IAS officials, including additional chief secretary, health, and the Gujarat health commissioner, tested positive for Covid-19 a day before the summit was postponed. Minister of state for fisheries, Narmada, water resources and water supply Jitu Chaudhary also tested positive on Wednesday.

The state government has projected the 10th edition of VGGIS as the biggest ever since its inception in 2002, with 26 nations joining as partner countries. The ninth edition in 2019 had 16 partner countries.

Foreign leaders such as Russian prime minister Mikhail Vladimirovich, Mozambique president Filipe Jacinto Nyusi, Mauritius PM Pravind Kumar Jugnauth, Nepal PM Sher Bahadur Daube and Slovenian premier Janez Jana were to share the dais with Prime Minister Narendra Modi during the inaugural ceremony on January 10. However, Nyusi and his wife, Isaura, tested positive and went into isolation a couple of days ago, which led to the Mozambique delegation’s participation being cancelled on Wednesday.

Leading industrialists, including Mukesh Ambani, Gautam Adani, Kumar Mangalam Birla, Sunil Bharti Mital, N Chandrasekharan, Ashok Hinduja and Harsh Goenka, were to attend the event in person. Leading overseas industrialists like Nayara Energy executive chairman Tony Fountain; Suzuki Motor Corporation chairman Toshihiro Suzuki; and Japan Bank for International Cooperation governor Tadashi Maeda were also scheduled to attend.

Meanwhile, the state government has also decided to suspend the kite festival and flower show at the Sabarmati Riverfront held on the sidelines of every edition of VGGIS.