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Assam closes down markets as people jostle to buy essential items

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By PTI Updated: Mar 27, 2020 8:34 pm
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Locals stand in a queue to buy vegatables, during day-3 of a nationwide lockdown, imposed in the wake of coronavirus pandemic, at Ulubari in Guwahati on Friday. (PTI)

Guwahati, March 27 (PTI): Assam minister Himanta Biswa Sarma on Thursday said the government will close down markets in the city to avoid overcrowding after people jostled to get essential items despite the advice of social distancing in the wake of Covid-19 outbreak.

Fancy Bazar, the main commercial hub of the Northeast, was chock-a-block with people knocking each other to buy food items, vegetables, meat and fish.

Tempos, trucks, private vehicles, rickshaws and hand-carts blocked the roads near the market, seeming to be just any other usual working day.

Similar were the scenes in other markets in the city and the districts, following a government directive that the people will be allowed to stock up essential commodities between 8 am and 7 pm.

When contacted by PTI, all-powerful Finance minister said in a message, “We need to close (the markets) immediately. Instructed CS (Chief Secretary) already.”

Soon, police were seen announcing that the markets need to be shut down and people return to their homes.

The minister later tweeted, “Request to every one -please do not go out of our own Home. We are in very critical condition. Need to follow every word of @narendramodi in both letter and spirit. Please police announce.”

An official notification had on Thursday said that for convenience of people during the ongoing lockdown period, it was necessary that essential items are made accessible, fixing the 8 am to 7 pm window for retailers.

The notification, however, stated no congregation of people take place during those hours and social distancing must be ensured.

Assam to turn 3 state-run hospitals into centres for treating Covid-19 patients

Even though no coronavirus case has been reported in Assam so far, the state government has decided to turn three state-run hospitals into centres for treating Covid-19 patients to deal with the situation as and when it arises, Health Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said on Friday.

All patients admitted to the general wards of the medical college and hospitals in Guwahati, Dibrugarh and Silchar will be shifted to private medical establishments, he told reporters.

“We have decided to keep these three medical college and hospitals free from the burden of general patients. Even though no coronavirus case has been reported in the state, we are planning in advance to effectively tackle the situation as and when it arises,” he said.

The Gauhati Medical College and Hospital (GMCH) will cease to be operational from Saturday for all general patients barring those being treated for cancer, those who are pregnant and the ones in the emergency ward.

An MoU has been signed with 33 private hospitals in the city to transfer the GMCH patients to those facilities, the minister said.

A similar agreement will be signed with private hospitals in Dibrugarh and the Assam Medical College and Hospital there will also be dedicated to the treatment of Covid-19 patients, he said.

The Silchar Medical College and Hospital will also be prepared for treating Covid-19 patients and a similar MoU will be signed with private hospitals in the south Assam town on Sunday, Sarma said.

Assam MPs pledge financial support for treatment of Covid-19 patients

A number of Assam MPs on Thursday came forward to extend financial help for setting up medical facilities to take care of Covid-19 patients.

Badruddin Ajmal of the AIUDF, Bhubaneswar Kalita of the BJP and Congress’ Pradyut Bordoloi and Abdul Khaleque have announced contributions totalling INR 4 crore.

Ajmal, AIUDF’s Lok Sabha MP from Dhubri, said he would donate INR 1.50 crore to the state government, while Kalita — BJP’s newly-elected Rajya Sabha MP, who is yet to take oath — pledged INR 1 crore.

Kalita also said he would donate an additional INR 10 lakh from his personal account to set up an ICU facility at the Mahendra Mohan Choudhury Hospital here.

Congress Lok Sabha MP Bordoloi (Nagaon) and Khaleque (Barpeta) announced donations of INR 1 crore and INR 50 lakh, respectively, to the Assam government.

6092
By PTI Updated: Mar 27, 2020 8:34:51 pm