Assam registered two more Covid-19 positive cases on Thursday, taking the total number of infected persons in the state to 34.
Both the cases were reported from coronavirus hotspot Morigaon district and are “secondary contacts” of Covid-19 positive cases who attended the Tablighi Jamaat at Nizamuddin Markaz in Delhi in March.
Morigaon was declared a “red zone” on Wednesday by the health ministry because of Covid-19 outbreak in the area. With the fresh cases, the district now has six Covid-19 cases. Beside Morigaon, Nalbari, Dhubri and Goalpara districts have also been marked as “red zone”.
Morigaon superintendent of police Swapnaneel Deka said both the patients, along with five others, were in quarantine in the community health centre at Lahorighat since April 1.
Late in the evening, Deka and Morigaon deputy commissioner Rituraj Bora were sent to quarantine after they came into contact with Covid-19 patients reportedly at a quarantine centre in the district. Some journalists from the area were also sent to quarantine, Assam health minister Himanta Biswa Sarma confirmed.
In view of the developments and identification of five Assam districts as coronavirus hotspots, governor Jagdish Mukhi on Thursday appealed to the leaders and mentors of various socio-religious and cultural organisations to impress upon their followers and members to strictly adhere to the lockdown period, which has been extended till May 3 to contain the coronavirus pandemic.
Appealing to everybody to remain inside and not venture out unless it is an extraordinary emergency situation, Mukhi observed that if the coronavirus situation spins out of control, it would take a heavy toll on the human and economic health of the state as well as the country.
Mukhi said, “The lengthening of the mandatory stay-at-home period has been necessitated to contain and control the spread of coronavirus in the country. It may be noted that the Union health ministry on Wednesday listed five Assam districts as coronavirus hotspots, though all of them have been identified as ‘cluster hotspots’.”
If Morigaon triggered a wave of concern, there was relief in Goalpara, another hotspot district, as three recovered Covid patients were released from Goalpara civil hospital in the presence of Sarma and minister of state (health) Pijush Hazarika. The district now has one Covid-positive patient.
However there are more than 80 quarantined persons in the district.
So far, at least five Covid patients have recovered and been discharged from hospitals in the state. Two others were discharged from Sonapur Covid-19 hospital on Wednesday evening. One patient had died on April 10.
Sarma said according to the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), Delhi, protocols, the three patients have been sent to 14-day home quarantine after they tested negative in two successive tests. “They will be kept in quarantine at the Truck Owners’ Association Bhawan where they will be allowed, with precautions, activities like morning walk, using mobile phones and meeting their family members,” he said.
He said several Covid patients were showing signs of recovery in the state.
Health department sources said six patients in Golaghat district were also waiting for the final confirmation of their recovery report. “If the results come negative, they might also be released soon,” a health official said.
In Assam, 12 of the 33 districts have reported Covid-19 cases. The five hotspot districts are Golaghat (9) in Upper Assam, Morigaon (6) in central Assam, and Dhubri (4), Nalbari (4) and Goalpara (4) in lower Assam. All these cases are linked to the Nizamuddin event. The other seven affected districts, identified as non-hotspots, are Cachar, Hailakandi and Karimganj in south Assam’s Barak Valley, Kamrup, Kamrup (metro), Lakhimpur and South Salmara with one case each.
Official sources said Assam is still in Stage 2 where the source of virus is known and it is easy to trace the affected. “We are in Stage 2 for over 50 days. We have had local transmission from infected persons with travel history. We have been able to trace the source but we all need to guard against community transmission which can be checked by adhering to lockdown guidelines,” one of them said.
On Thursday, Assam police also launched helpline (6026900974/6026900975/9435215029/9132699735) to support senior citizens in distress.
Director-general of police Bhaskar Jyoti Mahanta said, “Assam police will provide medicines, other essentials and transportation in case of urgency to senior citizens.” The police have also made it mandatory to wear face masks while going out.
Additional reporting by Sarat Sarma in Nagaon and our Sofikul Ahmed in Goalpara