June 27, 2020 5:58:36 am
The Assam government on Friday announced a stringent 14-day lockdown in state capital Guwahati from Sunday evening, with Health Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma saying that practically “nothing except pharmacies, laboratories and hospitals will remain open”.
Saying they had no other choice, Sarma referred to the current spike of Covid-19 in Guwahati. Since June 15, no travel history has been found in around 700 cases in the city, indicating community transmission. Of Assam’s total 6,600 Covid-19 cases, 2,600-odd remain active. It has seen 10 deaths. The spike in its cases coincides with increased testing, with Assam now doing 15,000-odd tests a day.
Announcing the lockdown, Sarma said grocery and fruit-vegetable stores would not be allowed to open in Guwahati starting June 28 evening. While the first seven days would see the most stringent curbs, Sarma said they could consider certain relaxations after that, depending on the situation.
“With a lot of pain, let me say that we do not have any other option at this point,” Sarma said, noting that of the 276 people who tested positive in Assam on Thursday, 133 were from Guwahati.
Apart from the coming lockdown in Guwahati, Assam starting Friday has imposed a night curfew (7 pm to 7 am) across the state. All towns and municipalities of the state — except Guwahati, as of now — will remain under complete lockdown Saturday and Sunday. Sarma said the weekend lockdown would stay till the pandemic is over.
Among those exempted are defence and security personnel and those associated with emergency and essential services. Print and electronic media as well as newspaper distribution are allowed. Agricultural work and tea garden activities are allowed.
The Health Minister also talked about the makeshift hospital set to come up in three days, taking Guwahati’s bed capacity to 1,600 — nearly double the current 890.
Earlier, the BJP government had announced 31 Covid Counselling Centres for city residents to voluntarily submit their samples. The centres are equipped with an ambulance, doctor, nurses and staff.
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