Regular-article-logo Sunday, 28 May 2023

Northeast moves to contain coronavirus threat

Blanket, curtain curbs on trains

Pranjal Baruah Guwahati Published 15.03.20, 09:41 PM
An awareness programme on washing of hands in Guwahati on Sunday.

An awareness programme on washing of hands in Guwahati on Sunday. Picture by UB Photos

Passengers travelling in AC coaches have to bring blankets for the journey after the railways on Sunday decided to stop providing blankets and curtains till further orders as a precaution against the novel coronavirus.

Accordingly, Northeast Frontier Railway (NFR) also withdrew the provision of supplying blankets and curtains in AC coaches of all its trains. NFR chief public relations officer Subhanan Chanda, said, “Blankets will be kept with the train attendant and given to passengers only on demand. Only bedsheets, pillow covers and hand towels will be provided. According to existing norms, curtains and blankets are not washed after every trip and could become a source of infection.”


The NFR has also put special emphasis on frequent disinfecting of coaches at depots under all its five divisions. Sanitising of all critical areas of mass contact in all coaches are being carried out after the rake is released from pit examination and washing. A dedicated has been deployed to carry out this task, Chanda said.

NFR authorities have also started a special drive to create awareness on Covid-19 among passengers in local languages. “Announcements in local languages are being made through the public address system at all stations and posters depicting dos and don’ts are being displayed in all stations and trains. Videos on precautions to be taken are being played at stations where such facilities are available,” he added.

On Sunday, there was panic on the Chennai-Dibrugarh Express when four passengers were found to be suffering from fever and cough. NFR public relations officer Nripen Bhattacharya said: “The train was halted at Mariani station in Jorhat district, around 323km from Guwahati, around 1pm. The screening team along with railway doctors inspected the passengers but none were found to be infected. After a thorough inspection of the coaches for half-an-hour, the train began its journey.”

Bhattacharya said the NFR has kept ready at least six isolation wards and 100 beds for quarantining suspected patients. The beds have been set up at railway police barracks, resthouses and other NFR accommodations.

“Since it’s physically impossible to inspect every passenger, health booths have been set up in major railway stations and helpline numbers (35907 and 102) have been opened,” the official said. Besides, ticket examiners have been trained to alert if they find any passenger showing symptoms. So far, not a single passenger has tested positive for coronavirus.

Hospital visit

Two persons were shifted to hospitals in Morigaon and Biswanath districts on Sunday after they were found to have returned from Kerala. Karnataka and Tamil Nadu, two of Kerala’s neighbouring states, have recorded a number of positive cases recently.

A 26-year-old youth from Amsoi in Jagiroad was shifted to Gauhati Medical College and Hospital (GMCH) as he had mild fever. He had returned from Kerala on Friday.

GMCH superintendent Ramen Talukdar said, “The youth was brought here on Saturday and was released today after he tested negative. We have collected 27 samples since February 7 and all have tested negative for coronavirus. While seven samples were collected from the city, the rest were from across the Northeast.”

He said samples are being collected at medical colleges in Silchar, Jorhat and Dibrugarh as well.

In another incident, a man with probable symptoms was admitted to the isolation ward of Biswanath Chariali civil hospital, after he recently returned from Kerala. He was later shifted to Tezpur Medical College and Hospital for testing.

The district administrations have asked gaonburhas (village headmen) to alert the authorities about anybody coming from outside the state.

Assam State Transport Corporation (ASTC) workers have also started sanitising the offices and buses to combat the coronavirus threat.

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