Despite surge in numbers, Assam confident of tackling Covid-19 effectively
Despite a surge in cases in recent days taking Assam’s Covid-19 tally past 1,200 cases, the state government on Sunday expressed confidence that all measures are in place to tackle the disease effectively.
Exactly two months since the first positive case was detected on March 31, the total cases reached 1,273 till Sunday evening. According to officials, as many as 1,124 cases are of people who returned to the state after May 4 when the ban on inter-state movement was lifted.
“The sudden rise in cases is due to homecoming of people from other states. Of the 1,124 positive cases detected since the return of people after May 4, 333 were of people who came from Tamil Nadu, 312 from Maharashtra and 134 from Delhi,” health minister Himanta Biswa Sarma told journalists on Sunday.
According to the minister 2.29 lakh people had returned to the state from other states across the country through roads, railways and air since the imposition of lockdown on March 25.
“Almost all the patients detected recently are those who have been in quarantine after their return to Assam. These cases are of people who got infected either in the state from where they came back or during their return journey to Assam,” said Sarma.
At present all the 33 districts in Assam have recorded Covid-19 cases. Hojai tops the list with 177 cases, followed by Golaghat with 160 and Kamrup (Metro) with 134. Majuli is at the bottom of the list with just one case.
Due to ramping up of testing facilities, Assam had conducted tests of 104,083 samples in seven government-accredited laboratories in the state till Sunday. Efforts are underway to test 10,000 samples per day soon with the opening of three more laboratories.
“Apart from ramping testing, we have been able to put 2.29 lakh returnees in institutional and home quarantine and now have facilities to treat nearly 5,000 Covid-19 patients. This has been possible due to coordinated efforts of all government departments,” said Sarma.
The minister added that since testing capabilities have increased, the state government might decide to reduce mandatory institutional quarantine for all returnees from 7 days at present to 4 days sometime in June. Mandatory tests of all returnees will continue as before.
“We will try and ensure that test results of all returnees are made available within 72 hours of their return so that they can leave institutional quarantine on the 5th day and spend the next 10 days of mandatory quarantine in their homes,” said Sarma.
He added that soon highly symptomatic patients who need special care would be kept at the six medical college hospitals in the state, those considered vulnerable will be admitted at district hospitals and asymptomatic patients will be kept at the 50 Mahatma Gandhi model hospitals across Assam.
“Though we are going from lockdown to unlocking, there is no cause for concern in Assam as we have not had community spread of Covid-19 yet. From now normalization will be the theme. We have to coexist with Covid-19 and bring back the economy on track,” Sarma, who also handles the finance portfolio, said.
“From a stage when news about one positive patient used to worry people across the state, we have now reached a stage where we are handling nearly 170 new positive cases daily, effectively. Therefore, though there is a surge, there is no cause for panic,” he added.
The state’s government’s community surveillance programme conducted in May had covered 29,771 villages and detected nearly 26,000 people with symptoms of fever. However, tests concluded that none of them were Covid-19 positive. The second round of surveillance will begin from next week.
Till Sunday evening, 186 Covid-19 patients had recovered in the state and the number of fatalities stood at four.