How Prepared is Guwahati to Tackle Coronavirus?
GUWAHATI: The Assam state government has swung into action to prevent any cases of the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in the state with different agencies taking precautionary measures, awareness campaigns and screening.
The state health and family welfare department is on alert since Assam shares its borders with Bhutan, Bangladesh and Nepal and the state becomes susceptible to foreign nationals carrying the virus into the state.
Recently, while speaking in the Assam legislative assembly, minister of state for health and family welfare, Pijush Hazarika, said that a total of 48 beds in isolation wards in six hospitals across the state have been kept ready in the state to tackle any case of coronavirus.
“In addition to this, two beds at each of the district hospitals have also been kept reserved,” said Hazarika adding that the state as well as the central government has undertaken awareness and sensitisation campaign regarding coronavirus.
He said the coronavirus testing facility exists at the Gauhati Medical College & Hospital (GMCH) and at a hospital in Lahowal.
“There is no reason to panic. People who develop symptoms must come forward. The state government is fully ready to tackle the situation,” the minister further added.
It is to be mentioned that the World Health Organisation (WHO) recently declared the disease a pandemic. A pandemic is declared when a new disease spreads globally beyond expectations, for which often people do not have the immunity. Further, a total of 75 cases were found positive for the disease in India till Friday, March 13, while the country recorded the first fatality in Kerala. However, no positive case of the disease has been reported in Assam.
Further, the ministry of health and family welfare on March 12 launched helpline numbers for all states and union territories for people to clarify their doubts and queries related to the COVID-19. The helpline number for Assam is 6913347770.
Meanwhile, preventive measures have also been stepped up at the Lokpriya Gopinath Bordoloi International (LGBI) Airport, where authorities have been screening every single arriving passenger since March 3.
Prior to this, only international passengers arriving in Guwahati from international flights were being screened at the Guwahati airport, said authorities.
“We are now following the guidelines issued by the ministry of health and family welfare for prevention of coronavirus and are screening every passenger arriving from domestic as well as international flight now mandatorily,” an official of the LGBI airport told G Plus.
MoS health and family welfare Pijush Hazarika said that several passengers who were screened at the airport and who showed symptoms like fever were taken to hospitals directly and were quarantined.
Further, in a bid to take precaution against the coronavirus outbreak, the Northeast Frontier Railway has also launched railway helpline numbers to impart awareness amongst the masses against the disease.
As per reports, close to 100 beds in isolation wards have been set up in Maligaon. Further, mobile numbers of doctors has also been released for information related to the disease.
Further, across the country the Indian Railways has kept 20,000 beds in isolation wards to tend to possible patients.
Additionally, sensitisation and awareness initiatives are being undertaken at Guwahati as well as Maligaon railway station with announcements by authorities. The officials are also keeping a check on the foreign nationals at major railway stations.
For the record, a 76-year-old American national who had tested positive for coronavirus in Bhutan, had travelled from Majuli to Guwahati via a luxury cruise ship, M V Mahabaahu, over the Brahmaputra River.
It is to be mentioned that as per Hazarika, a total of 599 people who had come in contact with the American tourist in Assam have been quarantined.
The American tourist had spent more than eight days in Assam before going to Bhutan. The 76-year-old American tourist had travelled to Bhutan via Guwahati and had stayed in Radisson Blu hotel in the city.
Further, 24 staff of the hotel who came in contact with the tourist are being kept under special observation.
Earlier, the US national flew to Jorhat on February 22 in an Indigo flight and checked into MV Mahabahu for a seven-day cruise which took them to Majuli as well as Kaziranga on his way to Guwahati. Later, he travelled to Paro where he was tested positive of coronavirus.