GUWAHATI: Even though the total COVID-19 positive cases in Assam have risen to 210, around 21,000 villages in the State are still free from the virus. Of the 210 cases detected till Thursday, while 129 are from outside Assam, 36 related to Tablighi Jamaat, and 32 have connections with Aloo Gudam in city's Fancy Bazar; sources of the remaining cases are yet to be ascertained. Seven persons under quarantine at Tezpur University Quarantine Centre tested positive on late Thursday night.
Meanwhile, the community surveillance process that was started in 26,000 villages by the Health Department has been completed in 21,489 villages where around 20,000 people were found to be suffering from fever. However, after test, none of them was found to be corona positive.
The problem now lies with around 27,000 people who are bound for their native villages. These people returned to Assam from other States. If they don't adhere to quarantine guidelines scrupulously, the situation may escalate into the community transmission stage. In such a situation, the government needs to be very strict on the quarantine guidelines and adopt a no-compromise mode.
Talking to the media here on Thursday, State Health and Family Welfare Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said, "Around 27,000 people have come to the State from other States, raising the total corona positive cases. There will be more trains to the State, besides air services from May 25. Now we're in a critical stage. If we're to remain safe, we need to be very strict on quarantine. Even the State government is ready to bear the expenditure for quarantine, including home and hotel quarantine. Seven days institutional quarantine and seven days home quarantine are compulsory. For home quarantine, the State government will pay Rs 2,500 per family for food. On an average, Rs 13,000 is spent for each person in quarantine.
"We request the people of Assam stranded in other States to stay back there till the Durga Puja. We're not in favour of branding districts as red, orange and green zones as that prevent activities in entire districts. We've adopted the approach of tagging affected areas as containment zones without any relaxations and buffer zones with some relaxations. This approach allows unaffected areas to do normal activities.
"We paid Rs 2,000 each to around 3.65 lakh people staying in other States last month. Within two days we'll pay them the second installment of Rs 2,000 each and the third installment in June. This will cost the State exchequer approximately Rs 216 crore.
"We've paid Rs 25,000 to each of the 860 patients now under treatment in other States. We're going to pay them the second payment of Rs 25,000 each."