Guwahati: Assam’s health and family welfare minister Himanta Biswa Sarma on Saturday said that Guwahati has now formally entered the COVID-19 pandemic stage in the last 10 days.
Sarma was addressing media persons in Guwahati amid a massive rise in the number of COVID-19 cases in the city.
On Saturday alone, GuwahatI reported a total of 777 COVID-19 cases — the biggest single-day spike in the city so far.
Sarma addressed the news and allegations that have made their way into various media outlets which claimed the credibility and potency of the novel coronavirus. Comparing it to just a regular cough and cold virus, some people had claimed that the ICUs inside the COVID-19 hospitals are empty without any doctors or medical staff.
To challenge this statement, the minister showed a nine-minute video of him and a team of doctors entering the ICU ward of the Gauhati Medical College Hospital (GMCH). “Check how people are battling with every inch of their lives inside the COVID ward ICUs,” he said pointing to the videos.
Sarma asked the members of the press to keep a look at the floors of the COVID-19 ward in GMCH so as to refute the claims of hospitals not being maintained in a clean and proper condition. In the video, donning a PPE, the minister was seen visiting the ICU wards, ventilator wards, and even general wards of the hospital.
Sarma blamed misrepresentation for the horrific condition Kamrup (M) is facing today, as people either became weary of the so-called “dirty atmosphere” in hospitals or fell prey to the “non-potent” claims of the novel coronavirus. “You are staying kilometres away and commenting on the conditions, de-moralising the frontline doctors, members of the cleaning facility and the people in the frontline who are giving their extreme best in this warzone,” he said adding, “Ask your consciousness, is it the right thing to do?”
Talking about people who questioned the authenticity of the tests, the minister gave a detailed information report about the number of tests that were conducted in each of the COVID-19 labs across the state. Each centre has tested specimens in number ranging from few thousands to over 50,000 out of which only 2-3 misrepresentation of test results occurs. “This amounts to less than 0.0001% error in the entire COVID-19 tests conducted,” he clarified.
On the brighter side, a serious COVID-19 patient who had respiratory issues and had to be brought to GMCH from MMCH on Friday, is now showing promising results after the administration of Remdesivir drug, he said. “Seeing the positive results today, we have given the Remdesivir drug to four other serious patients today,” the minister said.
As for the ongoing lockdown, the minister feared that most of the COVID-19 cases in Guwahati are now occurring at the community level. This is unique for the city of Guwahati as the rest of the places of Assam have registered cases from quarantined patients or from people who have had a travel history, he added.
Meanwhile, according to the revised lockdown relaxation, all stand-alone grocery shops are allowed to operate between 11 am and 4 pm from Monday to Friday (July 6 to July 10).
The minister asked the people to follow strict social distancing norms, wearing masks, etc, while being outside of their homes. Additionally, Sarma also advised against home isolation of COVID-19 patients, as it is not feasible in the city where most people live in community-shared spaces like apartments and flats.