Lockdown in Guwahati
The Assam government has announced a 14-day “total lockdown” in Guwahati from Sunday midnight following a spurt in Covid-19 cases.
Night curfew was also imposed from 7pm to 7am across Assam from Friday evening and there will be “total lockdown” on weekends in town and municipal areas.
State health minister Himanta Biswa Sarma announced the decision on Friday after a high-level meeting chaired by chief minister Sarbananda Sonowal on Thursday night to take stock of the situation. The meeting was attended by Sarma and the chief secretary, among others.
Sarma said the government had no option but to announce the lockdown in Kamrup (metro) district, under which Guwahati falls, because of the sharp spike in cases. Except pharmacies and hospitals, everything else will remain closed, he said.
“Of the 762 positive cases detected in the city since June 15, 676 had no travel history. Almost 50 per cent cases reported in Assam over the past few days are from the city. People are not wearing masks and not maintaining social distancing in busy areas. Residents have two days to buy essentials. We had to resort to the lockdown to save the city, the state and the Northeast,” Sarma said.
The announcement was followed by a run on the markets where social distancing norms were violated. The price of a kilo of potato rose from Rs 30 to Rs 40 in an hour.
Guwahati, considered the commercial hub and the gateway to the Northeast, has to be secured to check the spread, officials said. There has been a sharp rise in coronavirus cases since migrant workers and stranded people started returning home in May.
There are 9,592 cases in the region so far. Assam tops the list with 6,646 cases, followed by Tripura (1,259), Manipur (970), Nagaland (371), Arunachal (158), Mizoram (142), and Meghalaya (46). Twelve patients have died with Assam accounting for nine deaths and one each in Meghalaya, Tripura and Arunachal Pradesh.
Assam is also battling the annual floods which have affected over 10 districts and left four dead so far.