As the first passenger trains from Delhi are scheduled to arrive in the state on Wednesday, the Assam government has announced that only those showing symptoms will be tested.
The first batch of passengers — over 800 people — will be arriving in Assam on the special trains, starting Wednesday. This number includes a vast majority from the neighbouring state of Arunachal Pradesh, who would be getting down at the last stop of Dibrugarh. The Arunachal Pradesh government will be responsible for ferrying them back home. These trains are expected to run through the week.
While all those who enter will be put into compulsory 14-day quarantine, the testing policy is a marked change from the government’s earlier stated position that everyone arriving in the state from ‘red zones’ of the country will be tested.
State health and finance minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said on Tuesday that the government took this decision considering two factors — first, the Centre’s advice that non-symptomatic persons need not be tested and second, the large number of tests the government has to conduct in any case. Follow coronavirus Live updates
Sarma said that health workers have identified — as part of the state’s Community Surveillance Programme — that 7,700-odd persons in around 10,000 villages of the state have fever-like symptoms. The programme aims to check a large number of villages for people with flu-like cases/respiratory symptoms, Japanese Encephalitis and malaria.
“According to the protocol, they have to be tested,” he said, adding that such identification work is underway in 20,000 remaining villages. Sarma highlighted that because of this, the total number of tests to be done in the state is high.
“Even if we test everyone [coming in by trains], results will come only three months later,” he said.
The state is also expected to receive shramik-special trains carrying migrant workers from Karnataka, Kerala, Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu. The dates of travel have not been confirmed yet.
Of the 64 COVID-19 cases reported in Assam, 39 have been treated and discharged and two have died, so far.
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