The Assam government on Friday announced a stringent 14-day lockdown in Guwahati from Sunday evening after around 700 people without travel history tested positive since June 15.
Assam has so far reported a total of 6,600 Covid cases, of which 2,600-odd are active. Ten people have died so far in the state due to the novel coronavirus. Assam’s spike coincides with increased testing — the state is completing 15,000-odd tests a day and has completed a total of 3.5 lakh tests as of now.
Announcing the lockdown, state health minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said that this would be a “strict lockdown” and that practically “nothing except pharmacies, laboratories and hospitals will remain open”. He added that grocery and fruit-vegetables stores would also not be allowed to open. Sarma said that the first seven days would be the most strict and the state government would consider certain relaxations after that.
“With a lot of pain, let me say that we do not have any other option at this point,” said Sarma. Of the 276 persons who tested positive in Guwahati on Thursday, 133 were from Guwahati, said Sarma, highlighting the spike which the city is witnessing. Follow Coronavirus LIVE Updates
Sarma said that Guwahati currently has a capacity of 890 beds for Covid patients — considering that the Guwahati Medical College and Hospital is not turned into a dedicated Covid hospital — and within the next three days, a makeshift hospital would be functional increasing the number to 1,600-odd.
With Guwahati emerging as a major concern for health officials this week, the government has established 31 Covid Counselling Centres where city residents can voluntarily come to submit their samples. These centres are equipped with ambulance, doctor, nurses and staff and would act as a rapid Covid response unit in the locality.
Eleven wards — out the total 31 into which Guwahati is divided — are already under lockdown since Tuesday. Officials said that the 11 already locked-down wards will be allowed to open till Sunday 7pm so that people can buy essentials.
Friday’s government order, signed by Assam Chief Secretary Kumar Sanjay Krishna, said that the Guwahati lockdown will be in force from 7 pm on Sunday to 6 pm on July 12.
The order said that movement of individuals; all offices — government and private; all business and commercial establishments — shops and trade activities; all public transport as well as private vehicles; all hospitality services; all educational institutions all places of worship, including religious congregations; and all kinds of functions — social, political, sports, entertainment, academic and cultural — are prohibited.
Among the exceptions are the defence and security personnel and those associated with emergency and essential services. Print and electronic media as well as newspaper distribution are allowed — the order advised that only a “minimum number of persons” should come out in the open. Agricultural work and tea garden activities will be allowed.
Rail and air travel will be functional — the ticket, or a copy of it, will have the validity of a lockdown pass for the passengers, and the driver ferrying the passengers.
Apart from the upcoming lockdown in Guwahati, the state from Friday imposed a night curfew from 7pm to 7am across the state until further orders.
Moreover, all towns and municipalities of Assam — except Guwahati, as of now — will be under complete lockdown on Saturday and Sunday. “Towns and municipalities will be locked down on all weekends from now on till the Covid pandemic is there,” Sarma said.
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