Assam ready for rapid testing
Assam is set to launch rapid testing for detection of Covid-19 cases from Wednesday with the 9,600 Chinese kits sent by Delhi.
The rapid test kits will substantially cut down the testing time from six hours to 15-20 minutes and will be available at all Covid-19 hospitals, which will be open for general patients from April 24, except one here.
State health minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said, “With the help of the rapid testing kit, a medical officer will come to know whether a person is an active Covid-19 infected patient or whether he/she was affected with the virus earlier. This will help us in contact-tracing as we will come to know the exact time of the infection, if any. The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) is also of the view that government hospitals are a good place to start rapid testing.”
The minister said since the threat of the pandemic would not be over till a vaccine was out, the state government was trying to import 50,000 more rapid testing kits from ICMR-recognised Chinese companies. He appealed to everyone not to create any controversy over the kits, like from where they are brought, keeping in view the health emergency.
Earlier, procurement of 50,000 personal protective equipment (PPE) from China by the state government had raised apprehensions over its quality, creating doubts in the minds of doctors and nurses.
Each person tested by the rapid testing kit will be recorded under the Arogya Setu App for round-the-clock monitoring.
Out of the 9,600 kits, the first 50 will be used for random testing at Spanish Garden apartments, a declared containment zone in the city. Another 25 will be used at Athgaon Kabaristan, another containment zone in the city, and 250 at Lahorighat in Morigaon district. The remaining kits will be distributed to medical and civil hospitals across the state.
Rice for poor
Dispur on Monday decided to provide 5kg free rice per month per member to every “genuinely poor” family without ration cards under the National Food Security Act (NFSA) to tide over the lockdown blues.
The decision was announced by chief minister Sarbananda Sonowal after a review of Kamrup district administration’s preparedness to deal with coronavirus pandemic on Monday.
Earlier, the government had transferred Rs 1,000 in cash directly to the needy/poor without ration cards. The move is likely to benefit over two lakh people, CMO sources said on Monday night.
The government has so far provided additional 5kg rice every month for three months to those with ration cards to cope with the coronavirus-induced lockdown. Around 80 per cent of the state’s estimated 3.2 crore people are covered under the NFSA.
Sources said Sonowal also took stock of availability of food grains in the state by visiting godowns of the Food Corporation of India at Noonmati, Changsari and Changsari railway yard. FCI officials informed Sonowal that the available stock at FCI godowns could meet the demand for the next two-and-a-half months.
Sonowal also directed the agriculture and veterinary department to work in close coordination with the food and civil supplies department to devise innovative strategies to ensure smooth supply of essential commodities, something which, according to ground reports, is not happening at several places. He also advocated door-to-door delivery of vegetables, egg, fish and meat.
Sonowal and Sarma on Monday briefed governor Jagdish Mukhi about the Covid situation in the state.
Additional reporting by our special correspondent in Guwahati