Assam minister Himanta Biswa Sarma addressing media in Guwahati on COVID-19

Guwahati: Assam health minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said on Monday that so far there are no cases of coronavirus reported from any part of the state. Twenty-eight of the 29 samples tested at the Guwahati Medical College and Hospital have been found to be negative. Result of one is pending, the minister said, urging upon people to avoid large gatherings.

“Request public to avoid unnecessary gatherings. Birthday party, marriage party, those social gatherings which can be avoided should be avoided. Let’s replace handshakes and hugs with a namaste. In case corona hits Assam then management could be tough. There are parts of the state where the health department officials and healthcare personnel might find difficult to reach. Therefore, prevention is better than cure,” Sarma said addressing a press conference in Guwahati.

“No confirmed case of COVID-19 in Assam so far. Now Jorhat Medical College and Hospital laboratory too has been accredited to carry on tests so now Assam has a total of 3 coronavirus testing labs. Collection centres, Barpeta, Tezpur and Silchar medical college and hospital too have now been upgraded to sample collection centres,” the minister added.

Six tests were done at RMRC (Regional Medical Research Centre), Lahowal. This included the cases related to those people who had come in contact with the US tourist who had tested positive in Bhutan after touring Assam. All samples tested negative.

The minister informed that a separate sample is being tested in Jorhat, the result is awaited.

The minister requested students and people who have returned home to immediately get in touch with health officials in case they see any symptoms. “If you hide then it will spread to your parents. The mortality rate among senior citizens has been noticed to be high,” Sarma cautioned.

Also Read: Coronavirus: Here are 5 centres in Northeast India to get tested

Airports across Assam will now screen domestic passengers as well. Screening activity would also begin at all stops of Rajdhani Express train.

As a precautionary measure, the government has created 2,000 beds for quarantine and another 507 as isolation beds. The minister said that the government hospitals have enough stock of necessary equipment, including N95 masks and gloves.

The minister further said that though schools will remain shut, teachers will go to the schools and create awareness among local people on coronavirus.

Mid-day meal items like rice, etc, would be distributed in the schools in case any student who is in need of food comes to school for food. “We are not cooking the food and distributing as this would lead to a large gathering and defeat our purpose of shutting the schools. But at the same time, we do not want anyone going through any hardship. So dry items like rice would be distributed so that they can go home and cook,” the minister said.

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