* Social isolation measures to continue beyond March 31
* Only 50% government employees to come to office
* Home quarantine of all incoming people to Assam from Sunday
* US $2,000 for people stranded abroad
GUWAHATI: Even though Assam has not recorded any positive novel coronavirus case so far, the State will be considered ‘marginally safe’ in case no person is found infected by the virus till April 6.
Addressing a press conference at Janata Bhawan on Friday the Health & Family Welfare Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said the State is passing through a very critical phase now and the government machinery has been put on maximum alert to prevent any possibility of spreading coronavirus. He said a large number of people who either worked or stayed outside Assam for various reasons have now returned to the State and the health condition of these people have to be monitored closely at least for 14 days.
“The return of such people should stop by March 22 as the running of incoming flights and trains to Assam is being cancelled gradually. If we take March 22 as the starting timeline, any person infected with COVID-19 outside Assam and returned to the State should show symptoms by April 5 or 6. Going by that if Assam does not record any positive case till April 6, we can say that the chain of virus has been broken somewhere and the State could be considered marginally safe,” Sarma said.
Hinting that social distancing or isolation measures will continue beyond March 31, the Minister announced that only 50 per cent employees will come to the government offices and educational institutions will come at a time and the rest will work from their homes. The heads of different departments will chalk out the rotation routine. He, however, said that all employees of the health, fire, water supply, ASEB and other essential services will be on duty.
Announcing more anti-coronavirus measures, Sarma said all incoming passengers to the State will have to undergo hand stamping process at airports and railway stations from Sunday to ensure their home quarantine. All these persons will be quarantined at their homes at least for 14 days.
Among other measures the State Government has prohibited public vehicles mainly buses to ferry standing passengers, closing crowded markets without hampering essential service and barring entry of more than 100 people into shopping malls at a time. All government offices, commercial, private establishments and shops will have to keep hand sanitizers and soaps.
Sarma, who also holds the Education portfolio, said all kinds of exams, including higher secondary first year exams and university exams have been postponed till March 31. Coaching institutes have also been asked to suspend its classes. He said stern actions will be taken against private schools and other institutions which do not follow the State Government’s instruction.
The Health Minister said Assam has now four accredited laboratories, including the new one at Silchar Medical College & Hospital to test samples of suspected coronavirus. He said 55 samples have so far been tested at four labs and not a single one has been tested positive. He said 1,003 persons have been advised for home quarantine and 41 persons with symptoms have been put in isolation wards in government hospitals.
Sarma also announced financial assistance to the tune of US $ 2,000 (around Rs 1.50 lakh) to the people of Assam who went abroad within a month for various reasons and now stranded in foreign countries due to the outbreak of coronavirus. He said the financial assistance will be transferred to the bank accounts of the persons stranded outside India after checking and confirming their documents, including passports.