How Assam, worst-hit state in Northeast India, is combatting Covid-19

The total COVID-19 confirmed tally in Assam reached 92,619 on Tuesday.

COVID-19 tally in Assam, the worst hit-state in Northeast India by the pandemic, is closing in on one lakh mark as the total tally in the state reached 92,619 positive cases on Tuesday, according to official data.

The COVID-19 confirmed cases in the state included 19,274 active cases, 73,090 recoveries, three migrations and 252 deaths till date since the first case was reported on March 31. How did the number surge so high? What are the steps taken by the Assam government to cope with the situation?

Major rapid actions taken by the Assam government

1. In view of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Assam government on March 15 announced closure of all educational institutions, cinema halls, multiplexes, gyms and swimming pools.

2. The state government announced the first lockdown from 6 pm, March 23 to March 31, exempting all essential services like pharmacies, medical, water supplies, banking and petrol pumps among others.

3. The state government makes compulsory quarantine of 14 days for people coming from outside the state or country. 

4. A quarantine centre with 700 beds were set up at the Sarusojai Sports Complex and a nearby apartment was rented by the government where at least 200 doctors can stay.

5. Isolation wards of 200 beds in Sonapur Hospital, ICU ward of 30 beds in GMCH, 150 beds at MMCH and 50 beds in JMCH were set up by the government.

As the number of Covid-19 cases in Assam continued to spike, the government extended lockdown in various phases to check the spread of Covid-19. Besides that, the government strictly warned people to follow lockdown norms, otherwise legal action under Section 188 will be taken against those violators as an immediate response on the increasing number of cases.

On account of the Covid-19 lockdown, normal operations all across the states in every sector have been affected and incurred a huge loss to the economy of the state. In addition to the adverse impact of the economy, the lives and livelihood of people had been affected badly due to the lockdown.

Special lockdown schemes and measures

1. The state government had launched several schemes and programmes, including a life insurance cover of Rs 50 lakh to journalists, Rs. 2000 month for three months to those people of Assam who are not returning to the state during lockdown, Rs. 25,000 to each cancer, kidney and heart patients in first installment, and Rs 25,000 in second installment to the same patients stranded outside the state during the COVID-19 lockdown

2. Home delivery of locally unavailable medicines amid lockdown restrictions. This but later limited to quarantined people only due to relaxations in Lockdown rules and guidelines.

3. Assam also embarked on an endeavour of “testing of all” who come to the state.  This has helped in reducing the spread of infection and also increased the testing rate in Assam by manifolds.

4. Assam Health Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma announced the setting up of plasma bank at the Guwahati Medical College Hospital (GMCH) with the first donor being a doctor who recovered from Covid-19.

5. The Government of Assam has also started a YouTube channel for spreading awareness among public regarding the precautions to be taken against COVID-19.

6. Also, the government has launched a mobile application called COVAAS for users to get information and updates regarding the COVID-19 in Assam. Also, the government with the help of National Informatics Centre (NIC) of Assam, has launched an app called COVID Suraksha to monitor the status of each home quarantined persons.

From August 16, Assam entered Unlock 3.0 with the state government issuing fresh set of guidelines “after due consideration of the COVID situation in the state and taking into consideration latest directives issued by the Union Home Affairs Ministry.”

The fresh guideines allow shops to open from Monday to Friday, inter-district movements of vehicles has been allowed to operate with 50 per cent capacity. However, social, cultural, political, sports, entertainment, religious functions and gathering, swimming pools and cinema halls remain closed.

First Published:Aug. 25, 2020, 5:23 p.m.