Assam’s Preparedness for Covid 19: Setting Example for rest of the country

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Posted in Assam, Featured

Being the gateway to Northeast India, Assam’s prep levels for Covid 19 are crucial not only for its own people,  but also for other states in northeast India as they can’t bypass Assam in many aspects. A safe Assam is actually a safe Northeast India. Northeast Today reports how Assam has prepared for the biggest crisis of recent time

Assam, which has a population of nearly 3.5 crore, is surely one of the vulnerable states and area when it comes to fighting a pandemic like coronavirus which is killing thousands of people everyday worldwide. Assam’s demographical pattern, mobility of population outside the state and within, its connection with the rest of India through the famous “chicken neck” corridor in Siliguri are enough conditions which can make any state authority to feel nervous in a pandemic crisis which  transmit through human contact.  Moreover, Assam’s shared border with other Northeastern states made the issue more worrisome, as an unsafe Assam can put the whole of Northeast India in danger. Hence, it was important for the state authorities of Assam to take proper measure to control the crisis at the possible minimum level.

When the overall number of Covid-19 cases in the country crossed 1,000 on late March 29 evening, with Maharashtra and Karnataka each reporting over 180 patients and 11 others reporting 30 or more, there were only six states that have not recorded a single positive case. One of these was Assam, where, widespread confusion over the spread of the virus and 21-day “total lockdown” paralysed the normal life.  Fortunately, compared to other parts of the country, the Assam state government responded swiftly in the initial days and has prepared extensively since the outbreak within its borders.

The incident of the American tourist in early of March who tested positive in Bhutan has alarmed the Assam State government as the tourist had travelled through Assam before reaching Bhutan. Considering the seriousness of the situation, Health Minister of Assam, Dr.Himanta Biswa Sarma took proactive measures to control the situation. At least 400 people in Assam have been quarantined after they came in touch with the American tourist. “State Health Dept has traced more than 400 contacts in different places, including MV Mahabahu (cruise ship) and resorts where he stayed. Teams of doctors and microbiologists have been keeping a close watch on these people who have been quarantined,” he tweeted.

Since then the situation has become more and more crucial for Assam, as many tested positive for the virus who had some contact with the Nizamuddin Markaz incident. Though the Nizamuddin related cases made the COVID-19 scenario crucial in Assam, all these cases were traceable for which the state government was able to initiate proper action to control the situation. However,  the case of the Guwahati based businessman, who tested positive for COVID-19 on April, made everybody nervous as the origin of his infection could not be traced.  This also resulted in complete quarantine of Spanish Garden, the apartment where the infected person  resides.

In this backdrop Himanta Biswa Sarma, in the early of April indicated that the fight against novel coronavirus would be a long drawn one for the state  without the possibility of any vaccine prior to Diwali. Sarma on April 4, while addressing a press conference in Guwahati  said the state was preparing for the long haul. He said to media, “From our understanding of the developments and research going on worldwide, I don’t think any vaccine will be available before Diwali. Medicine for its cure can be a possibility prior to it as work is also going on in this regard.” However, with news of the vaccine for corona tested on humans in late April may reduce the fear of what Sarma has assumed.

The State government is preparing for the this long fight in many folds, from medical preparation to fund raising. Sarma, who a holds the Finance department admitted that  the economy was facing uncertain times, but the state government was doing its best to negotiate through it. However, there was no salary cut for state government employees so far. “About 5 lakh State government employees will be given a full salary in these difficult times. They are advised to help needy families in their neighbourhood with their salaries,”  Sarma said in a press meet in early April.  The government had credited Rs15.84 lakh in the bank accounts of 21 people from Assam stranded abroad. The amount credited as first instalment is half the $2,000 assured. It is needed to be mentioned here that the Assam government  also  announced a 30-per cent cut in the salaries for the chief minister, ministers and MLAs for one year and  the  fund accrued will be used for the treatment of Covid-19 patients and management of the outbreak.

With nearly 3000 isolation bed, around 500 ICU beds (both in Government and Private hospitals), more than 200 ventilators- Assam is well prepared for a pandemic crisis. Despite being the country’s 15th most populous state, Assam has controlled the spread of the virus very strongly. If the relatively low numbers of cases continue, Assam will surely set an example for other states of the country.

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