Monday, 30th October 2017

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Assam Covid-19 cases mount

The latest positive case was reported from North Lakhimpur district on Saturday morning

By Pranjal Baruah in Guwahati
  • Published 5.04.20, 1:13 AM
  • Updated 5.04.20, 1:13 AM
  • 3 mins read
  •  
Chief minister Sarbananda Sonowal interacts with doctors at Haflong civil hospital. Picture by UB Photos

Assam’s Covid-19 positive count touched 25, making it the worst affected state in the Northeast, on Saturday. While four persons, including a woman, were found to be connected with the religious congregation at Nizamuddin in Delhi, another patient, not connected to the event, was detected in a posh apartment complex on Zoo Road, in the heart of the city. However, he had recently travelled to Delhi.

The latest positive case was reported from North Lakhimpur district on Saturday morning. The person had attended the Tablighi Jamaat congregation in New Delhi, which Dispur described as “story which was still evolving” given its spread in the state.. The remaining four were detected positive on Friday night.

Assam health minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said, “Of these cases, two persons have voluntarily informed the authority about their physical status. While the one from the city alerted the authorities himself, another person from South Salmara district identified himself as a participant of the Tablighi Jamaat. One has attended the ceremony and the lone woman patient was a family member of one of the positive cases from Morigaon.”

Though the city’s positive patient has no connection with the Delhi congregation, the health minister refuted the idea of a possible ‘community spread’ of the virus in the state. “The person had returned from Delhi on March 1 and it has almost passed one month. So we suspect that he might have infected himself from someone who was already infected with the virus during this month. He and his family members have already confirmed meeting many people from Delhi and Calcutta during the period. We have traced a chain of 111 people who are connected to the patient and their blood samples are currently being tested,” he added.

The residential complex where the city denizen was living was already been declared as “containment zone” and entry and exit have been restricted. 

Sarma said at least 1,529 blood samples have been tested, of which 1,308 have tested negative. The remaining 196 reports are still awaited. The minister appealed all those who attended the Jamaat congregation at Nizamuddin from the state to call the helpline number 104 or contact the nearest health worker so that their samples can be tested and their contacts traced.

On Saturday, the state government has also completed the tender process for the upcoming five new pre-fabricated hospitals in the state to treat Covid-19 patients exclusively.

“The doctors, nurses and other staff who are currently treating the patients will need to go for a 14-day quarantine period too. Those working here will stay at a five-star hotel in the city,” the minister added.

Chief minister Sarbabanda Sonowal visited Haflong civil hospital, including its isolation ward, to take of its preparedness to fight the Covid-19 outbreak. Earlier in the day, his Tamil Nadu counterpart, Edappadi K. Palaniswami, informed him that all the migrant labours from various states, including Assam, were sheltered in several relief camps in the southern state.

Lockdown

The Assam government has also released over Rs 15.84 lakh for at least 21 people from Assam who have been stranded outside the country.

The day also saw Assam police continuing to enforce the lockdown across the state. Till Saturday 4pm, state police have arrested 1,029 people and detained 3,983 vehicles for violating the lockdown norms. Seven persons were arrested for spreading fake news on social media.

Sarma, while issuing a warning to Nizamuddin returnees to voluntarily come forward by Sunday to get themselves tested or face legal action, made it clear that Nizamuddin was “still a evolving story” given its spread from Salmara to Lakhimpur and that all possible steps have to be taken to check its spread.

Sharing some of the images of the food provided to the inmates of the quarantine facilities in the state, minister of state for health and family welfare, Pijush Hazarika tweeted: “Healthy vegetarian and non-vegetarian lunch was served in a timely manner in the various #quarantine centres in Assam. Quarantine should not be feared nor stigmatized.”

The detection of the city’s first positive case has seen more people staying indoors. A grocery shop owner in Lachit Nagar said that number of people on the streets and in his shop had been been dwindling since Wednesday. “Today, there was a fall of 30 per cent since Friday,” he said.

Most wholesalers in Fancy Bazar, too, kept their shutters down. “ There is a kind of fear now after the first corona case was detected. Even vegetable vendors stayed away,” a local said.

Sonowal urged the public not to panic and was hopeful that successful compliance of lockdown rules till April 14 would significantly help in minimising infection from this dreaded disease.

Golaghat quarantine: Rising cases in Golaghat district saw the district administration put as many as 6,650 residents in five villages under village quarantine. The villages are Rampur (1,535), Islampur (1,168), Bheloguri (546) in Merapani, Dhuliagaon (1,500) in Marangi and Dhemaji Kaiborta (Dighalipam) (1,900) have been sealed by Golaghat district administration on April 1 as the positive cases were reported from these families. There are nine positive cases in the district.

Golaghat deputy commissioner Bibhash Chandra Modi said the villagers were adhering to regulations and the administration has arranged supply of essentials and medicines so they don’t come out of the village. All the positive cases in Golaghat had linked with Nizamuddin congregation.

Additional reporting by Sanjoy Hazarika in Bokakhat and our special correspondent in Guwahati