Tackling Covid-19 might get difficult if it spreads to far-flung areas — Assam minister
Guwahati, Mar 16 (PTI): Assam minister Himanta Biswa Sarma on Monday said tackling the coronavirus crisis will be difficult if it spreads to “unreachable areas” of the state.
He, however, assured that the state machinery is prepared to handle any situation arising out of the pandemic.
“Assam has lots of unreachable areas like the Char (riverine regions) or the hills. If these areas are affected, managing the situation will not be easy,” the state’s health and family welfare minister told reporters here.
There are many places in the state where even officials from the health department will not be able to visit, he added.
“Assam has limited facilities. That is why we are focussing more on prevention rather than cure. We appeal to people not to attend social gatherings if it is not necessary,” Sarma said.
The minister said that the state government has strengthened the healthcare system to deal with any outbreak of Covid-19.
“As of today, we have created facilities to quarantine 2,000 people, while 506 isolation beds are ready. We have also 269 ventilation capacities in government-run hospitals across the state. Fifty more such beds are available in private hospitals,” he said.
Sarma said that a total of 36 samples have been tested so far, out of which 34 were negative. Results of two samples are awaited.
“Till now, there is no positive coronavirus case in the state. We have been testing only foreigners at the airports. But, the virus has reached Stage-II level of local transmission. So starting tomorrow, all the six airports in Assam will be testing domestic passengers as well,” he said.
Surveillance will also be enhanced at railway stations, he said.
Sarma said the government will take action against those who sell masks and sanitisers at a premium, as these products have been brought under the “essential commodities” category.
The Assam government had on Sunday ordered shutting down of all educational institutes, gymnasiums, swimming pools and cinema halls with immediate effect till March 29 to prevent the spread of Covid-19.
Sarma said teachers have been asked to attend schools and colleges and also visit nearby villages to create awareness about the killer virus.
“We have decided to provide food to children as part of the mid-day meal scheme. But, it may not be cooked food as that could lead to a mass gathering,” he said.