COVID-19 lockdown: Assam extends period allowing movement of stranded people in state till April 30

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The Assam government has extended the period allowing movement of the stranded people, who have already applied for passes to travel home by personal vehicles and buses within the state, till April 30, Health and Finance Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said on Sunday.

It had earlier allowed one-way movement within the state for three days by personal vehicles and Assam State Transport Corporation (ASTC) buses from April 25 in accordance with the guidelines issued by the Union Ministry of Home Affairs.

The deputy commissioners of various districts had rejected 34,000 applications as those were for round-trips with people wanting to use their vehicles to bring back family members stranded in different districts, the minister said at a press conference here. “It has been decided to allow a one-time round trip to such persons from April 28 to April 30 and they will be issued passes accordingly,” he said.

Already 26,950 people have reached their homes in their vehicles and another 11,588 will be cleared by Monday, while the movement of the remaining 34,000 people will be staggered over three days from April 28.

The ASTC has received 41,651 applications from those who wish to travel by bus and by Sunday, nearly 15,000 people will travel to their destinations, the minister said, adding that the remaining applications will be cleared by April 30. “We want to settle the movement of stranded people within the state by April 30 so that if and when the lockdown is lifted, we can concentrate on those entering the state from outside,” Sarma said.

Meanwhile, the 391 students of the state coming from Rajasthan’s Kota by 17 buses have reached West Bengal and are expected to reach Guwahati by Sunday night. The boys in the group will be kept at the Sarusajai quarantine facility and the girls at three hotels for the mandatory quarantine, the minister said.

He added that their swab tests will be conducted on the fifth day and a decision will be taken by doctors regarding their release. “The doctors will decide whether those testing negative can be discharged and if they can spend the remaining nine days in home observation,” Sarma said.

He added that the students, who were already in quarantine in Kota, have not come into direct contact with any COVID-19 patient and so, the quarantine period for them will be 14 days. The quarantine of the students is mandatory as they are coming from Rajasthan, which is in the “Red Zone”, and there is also a possibility of contracting the infection during the journey.

The minister also appealed to the owners of private hostels, paying guest facilities and owners renting out accommodation to those working in private companies and have not received their salaries in April, to give at least a 50-per cent concession on rents as a humanitarian gesture.

The government has so far deposited Rs 2,000 each in the bank accounts of nearly two lakh financially weak people from Assam who are stranded outside the state, besides providing financial assistance to 829 critical patients, who had gone outside the state for treatment, and 49 people, who had gone abroad on temporary work, Sarma said.

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