Fear of community transmission in northeast’s gateway Guwahati
Earlier, two similar cases were detected in the same area, a hub of wholesale medicine dealers for the region. Guwahti’s first Covid-19 case, detected in April, was a businessman with no history of travel or contacts with infected people.Updated: Jun 11, 2020 20:02 IST
The Assam government is concerned about possible community spread of Covid-19 in Guwahati, the northeast region’s biggest city, after 13 people without any travel or contact history tested positive for the Coronavirus.
“We are a bit worried about Guwahati. Till Wednesday, we have found nearly 13 Covid-19 cases in the community level,” state health minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said on Wednesday, after a fresh case without any history of travel or contacts with other infected people was detected at Hari Sabha in the Panbazar neighbourhood of the city.
Earlier, two similar cases were detected in the same area, a hub of wholesale medicine dealers for the region. Guwahti’s first Covid-19 case, detected in April, was a businessman with no history of travel or contacts with infected people.
The possibility of community spread in Guwahati, which has a population of nearly 2.3 million and is the gateway to other northeastern states, has worried Assam’s health department and the local administration.
“We will have to collect more samples from areas where cases with no history have been detected. We have to enforce strict containment for around seven days in order to break the chain of transmission,” Sarma said.
There are currently 26 containment zones spread across Guwahati, three of them declared on Wednesday following the detection of fresh cases.
Biswajit Pegu, the deputy commissioner of Kamrup (metro), said: “We have identified some areas in the city where localised cases have been recorded. These are contiguous areas. If we enforce lockdown in those areas and conduct tests on a large scale, we may be able to cut the chain of spread.
“We are contemplating conducting community surveillance in those areas and checks for residents having fever and respiratory problems. A decision will be taken soon.”
Assam has recorded more than 3,300 Covid-19 cases till Thursday afternoon. There have been 1,250 recoveries and six deaths.
“We have had a few cases with no history of travel, contact or exposure. The cases in Guwahati are not huge, not detected within a day or in a same locality. But a pattern is emerging of people who are symptomatic who got tested on their own and were detected as positive,” said S Lakshmanan, director, National Health Mission (NHM) Assam
“Definitely it’s a matter of worry. The number of cases may not be sufficient to say that community spread has already happened. But the fear is very real. People need to be extra careful and follow social distancing and other safety measures to prevent spread,” he added.