Assam’s flood-affected battle Covid-19 in relief camps; none infected yet
There have been no reported cases of Covid-19 infection yet from the relief camps, which are usually located in government educational institutions and temporary structures.Updated: Jul 19, 2020, 15:46 IST
Floods are an annual feature of Assam’s calendar and each year three to four waves of deluge hit the state and affect millions. But this year there’s the additional scourge of the coronavirus pandemic as well.
Thousands uprooted by floodwaters are taking shelter in relief camps and local administrations are trying to implement a new set of rules which require safety and social distancing among the people housed in them.
There have been no reported cases of Covid-19 infection yet from the relief camps, which are usually located in government educational institutions and temporary structures.
“In view of Covid-19, we issued fresh guidelines in May itself on the management of flood relief camps. District administrations have followed those rules, but floods this year have been unrelenting making it tougher for them,” said Pankaj Chakraborty, the state project coordinator of Assam State Disaster Management Authority (ASDMA).
As per the new guidelines, district officials had to identify additional relief camps as per population density of villages to earmark space for social distancing.
Unlike earlier when 3.5sq m of space in relief camps was earmarked for each person, the figure was doubled to 7sq m to ensure there’s one-metre distance between two camp inmates.
“We have been staying at a relief camp since July 13. Local officials informed us about maintaining hygiene and social distancing and we are trying to follow as much as possible,” Ramen Doley, a farmer in Golaghat, who is staying at a relief camp at Mungilal lower primary school along with 126 others.
Adequate toilet facilities, provisions made for hand-wash, sanitizers and face masks for inmates, daily monitoring of the health of inmates and isolation and tests of those showing Covid-19 symptoms were some of the other rules.
“We have 52 relief camps at present and over persons are staying in them. Our personnel are ensuring all safety and social distancing protocols are followed. Health workers are visiting camps and conducting tests of those showing symptoms. No one has been found infected yet,” said Nandita Dutta, district project officer of the disaster management authority in Barpeta.
According to an ASDMA bulletin on Saturday, more than 27.63 lakh people in 26 of the state’s 33 districts are affected by floods, which have claimed 79 lives this season. Over 47,000 displaced people were taking shelter in 649 relief camps in 21 of the affected districts.
“There are 22 relief camps in our district at present and 3240 persons are staying there. We have provided face masks, sanitisers, soaps at the relief camps. Though we have had cases of inmates suffering from cough, cold etc., no one has been found Covid-19 positive yet,” said Ronney Rajkumar, district project officer of the disaster management authority in Golaghat.