Air and train passengers to Assam will have to undergo corona tests on reaching the state : Himanta

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Guwahati, Apr 17 (PTI) All air and train passengers travelling to Assam will have to undergo COVID-19 tests on reaching the state as its present coronavirus situation is primarily linked to people with travel history, Minister for Health and Family Welfare Himanta Biswa Sarma said on Saturday.

COVID-19 negative certificates from other states will not be accepted and those entering Assam will be required to undergo both rapid antigen and RT-PCR tests on arrival, Sarma told a press conference here.

'The results of the tests will be available within 24 hours but till then the passengers should stay in isolation', he said.

'In Assam the current cases are linked with travel and there is no indigeneous COVID-19 here ... There is no plan of any lockdown or restriction being imposed in the state,' the minister said.

Sarmah said that the strain of virus found in the second wave is the UK variant which is very light and spreads very fast.

Sarma admitted that the situation due to novel coronavirus has turned complicated during the last few days.

'But as of now we are prepared and the situation is under control'.

Asked if the spike in COVID-19 cases is linked to election rallies and campaigns held for the three-phase assembly polls which concluded on April 6, Sarma also senior BJP leader, said that no connection could be established between the two.

'We had conducted a study to find out if COVID cases had increased where more election rallies were held, but this could not be established. Out of the 126 assembly constituencies in the state there are no cases in around 100 constituencies,' he said.

No political leader of any party in the state have tested positive, he added.

Most of the recent cases are connected with travel history and have been reported from commercial and trading centres like Guwahati, Dibrugarh, Tinsukia, Jorhat, Tezpur and Cachar, he said.

The number of average daily cases in the state between March 20 and 26 was 36 with four deaths. It increased to 51 average daily cases between March 27 and April 2 with three deaths, to 146 between April 3 and April 9 with eight deaths.

The figure spiralled to 484 average daily cases and 12 deaths between April 10 and April 16.

Asked about holding of Class 10 and 12 board exams in Assam, the minister said that as the model code of conduct is in force in the state it will not be proper for the government to take any decision on it at present.

The authorities have been asked to discuss the matter with with teachers and guardians. 'A decision can be taken by the new government which will be formed after May 2 (the date of counting of votes)', he said.

All deputy commissioners have been directed to take a decision on the closure of schools till Class 5 if the number of active cases in their respective district is 100 or above.

Assam has reported 2,22,940 positive cases so far with 4,069 active cases and 1,127 deaths reported so far, health department sources said.

Of the 4,069 active cases, only 811 are admitted to hospitals and 17 of them are on ventilation. Another 65 patients are in the intensive care units, while 137 of them are in oxygen-supported isolation beds, the sources said.

A total 592 patients are on isolation beds without oxygen support and the remaining 3258 are in home isolation, they said.

At present there are total 4,440 beds in hospitals for COVID-19 patients.

Sarma said that there is no shortage of oxygen in Assam which has a total availability of 288.19 metric tonnes compared to the current requirment of 40.58 metric tonnes.

'It was unlikely that there will be any shortage in the near future,' he said adding there are adequate Remdesivir in the different hospitals and orders for more have been placed.

Remdesivir, used for the treatment of the contagion, will be provided free of cost for the treatment of below poverty line patients. In the case of non-BPL patients, it will be provided at a concessional rate equivalent to its procurement rate by the Assam National Health Mission.

Sarma said that there was shortage of corona vaccine for a few days but the Centre has sent 6,07,090 doses of COVID-19 vaccines which are currently available.

Altogether 15,67,430 people have been vaccinated in the state so far. A total 12,84,432 received the first dose and 2,82,998 the second, the minister said.

The deputy commissioners have been directed to organise camps in schools and colleges so that teachers and other staff above 45 years of age are vaccinated on a priority basis so that they do not have to go to hospitals, he added.