Assam health and family welfare minister Himanta Biswa Sarma addressing a press meet in Guwahati on Saturday Credit: EastMojo image

Guwahati: The doubling rate for COVID-19 cases in Assam has decreased from 16 days to 11 days, hinting at a dire situation for the state government.

Addressing a press conference on Saturday, health and family welfare minister Himanta Biswa Sarma informed that currently the doubling rate is 11 days, against June 29, when the doubling rate was 16 days.

In simpler terms, it means that the number of cases are now multiplying faster.

Assam has so far recorded 15,536 cases of which 5,650 are active, 9,848 discharged, 35 dead and 3 migrated to other states.

The state’s recovery rate stands at 63.9% which is the fourth highest in the country, behind West Bengal, Gujarat and Delhi, not considering the smaller states with smaller sample sizes.

Meanwhile, with 35 deaths, the death rate is 0.23%, which is the least in the country. This is excluding states like Tripura, Manipur, Arunachal, etc, as their sample size is too small.

Assam reported its biggest single-day spike on July 4 with 1,202 cases. On an average, the state is reporting 650 new cases each day and discharging 450 COVID-19 patients every day.

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Guwahati lockdown extension

Meanwhile, Sarma informed that Assam health department has suggested for a one-week entension of lockdown in Kamrup (Metro) district against a two-week lockdown extension being suggested by civil society organisations. A 14-day lockdown was imposed in the district, under which Guwahati falls, from June 28 to July 12.

However, the state chief secretary will take the final decision after consultation with the MP, MLAs of Guwahati in this regard on Sunday.

Currently, the positivity rate of Antigen testing in Guwahati is at an average of 21%, down from 30%, from the beginning of the lockdown. And in the last two days, the positivity rate is reaching 16%.

Sarma said that if the lockdown is extended by another week, then the positivity rate could be brought down to 6-7%.

Talking about the infrastructure, he informed that there are around 3,100 beds currently available in the city for cOVID-19 cases. And by the next week, the state is aiming to increase it to 4,000 beds.

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New SOP for home isolation of asymptomatic COVID-19 patients

Meanwhile, Assam government has issued new standard operating procedure (SOP) for asymptomatic COVID-19 patients wanting to stay in home isolation. Sarma said that the asymptomatic patients can stay if they meet the new criteria set by the state.

First, people in the neighbourhood, or who use shared spaces, should have no objection to the infected person opting to stay at home.

The patient cannot live in the same house where his/her elderly parents also reside, or anyone with any co-morbidities.

Further, the patient needs to purchase a pulse oximeter, a device used to monitor the amount of oxygen carried in the body, and have a personal physician with whom he can discuss the reading every three hours.

If the oximeter reading drops to 95, then the patient must use his/her own vehicle and immediately come to Gauhati Medical College and Hospital (GMCH). In essence, if a person is wanting to stay home, then a personal care with a driver should be available round the clock.

Only if all the conditions are met with, and cross checked by the state, then an asymptomatic person will be allowed for home isolation, informed Sarma.

Also Read: Assam: New SOP for home isolation of asymptomatic COVID-19 patients

Antigen testing for air travellers

Further, he informed that all air passengers arriving at Lokpriya Gopinath Bordoloi International (LGBI) will now undergo antigen test for COVID-19. If the test result is negative, then the passengers need not go for quarantine in a hotel, instead, they will be sent for 14 days of home quarantine.

However, if the second test, which will be RT-PCR comes as positive then the patient will be shifted to the hospital on immediate basis, informed Sarma.

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Dedicated COVID hospital for pregnant women and kids, and geriatric ward

In the first of its kind initiative, Assam is also planning to have dedicated hospital for COVID-19 positive pregnant woman and kids under 12, and for elderly people above 65 in Guwahati

In the women and children hospital, all required maternal and childcare services will be available. The facility will be started from July 14.

Likewise, the Khanapara facility will be dedicated to the 65-year-old plus COVID patients. It will be made into a geriatric ward, and one nurse will be available for every five patients. Other facilities like blood testing, BP monitoring, etc, as required, will be available in this facility.

Meanwhile, expressing concern that a number of private hospitals and clinics in the city are refusing to accept patients who do not have COVID test results showing that they are negative, the health minister announced a special provision to be started at GMCH.

He said that all patients requiring immediate medical assistance, can visit GMCH’s fever clinic before 12 noon everyday, and they will be tested, and their test results will be uploaded within 24 hours.

Updating on revised ICMR guidelines, Sarma said that from now on, all COVID patient deaths should not be considered as COVID death unless the primary reason for their death is COVID-19.

He said that this is on the basis of updated guilines by World Health Organisation (WHO).

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