Assam gets 9,600 Chinese test kits from Centre

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Medics leave for home after completing a mandatory 14-day quarantine at Taj Vivanta Hotel, in Guwahati, Assam. Photo: PTI

Assam Health Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma on Monday said the Centre has sent 9,600 Chinese rapid test kits for coronavirus (COVID-19) and appealed to people to not create any controversy over the products’ import.

With the help of the kits, the State government has decided to reopen all the COVID-19 hospitals for general patients from April 24, except one in Guwahati, Mr. Sarma said at a press conference in Guwahati.

The arrival has come two days after Assam had put on hold using 50,000 personal protective equipment (PPE) it imported from China after apprehensions were raised over its quality, creating doubts in the minds of the doctors and nurses.

Sharp reactions had come from residents on two counts – ideological difference with the neighbouring nation and the product quality. The Health Minister, however, had dubbed the allegations “baseless”.

Mr. Sarma had himself received the consignment of 50,000 PPE that Assam had directly imported from Guangzhou in China on April 15.

“The Government of India has sent us 9,600 rapid testing kits, which were imported from China. These give results in 15-20 minutes. We are also independently trying to import such kits from ICMR-recognised Chinese companies,” Mr. Sarma said.

He appealed to everyone to not create any controversy over the kits, keeping in view the health emergency.

“Let us all trust the ICMR and governments at the Centre and State. We will get time in future to talk about our political ideology and differences,” Mr. Sarma said.

He informed that the rapid test kits will be initially sent to a few hotspots, including the Guwahati-based high-end apartment Spanish Garden (50 kits), Athgaon Kabarstan area (25 kits) and Laharighat in Morigaon district (200 kits).

The rest of the kits will be distributed among the government hospitals across the State.

“Empowered by these kits, we have decided to open all our COVID-19 hospitals from April 24. Now, doctors will be able to test all the general patients for COVID-19 if they have any doubt,” Mr. Sarma said.

Only the Mahendra Mohan Choudhury Hospital in Guwahati will continue to be the dedicated COVID-19 hospital, he added.

The Health Minister said the agreement between the government and private hospitals to share the load of general patients will continue for some time as the threat of novel coronavirus is not eliminated until a vaccine is invented.

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