Alarmed by the sudden spike in the number Covid-19 cases, the Assam government has decided to promulgate 14-day ‘total lockdown’ from Monday midnight in Guwahati, night curfew in the entire state and ‘complete lockdown’ on Saturdays and Sundays in major cities and towns of the state, Health Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said on Friday.
Briefing the media about the government decision, Sarma said that all government and non-government offices, markets, shops, business establishments, commercial and industrial units would be shut and no public or private transport would be allowed to operate in Guwahati for 14 days starting Monday midnight.
Assam reported 276 new Covid-19 cases in the last 24 hours, pushing the state’s tally to 6,646, with active cases at 2,601 while 4,033 patients have been discharged from various hospitals after recovering from the disease. Ten people, including a 16-year-old girl, have died of Covid-19 so far.
“It is very alarming that 762 cases, including 677 patients with no travel history, were found in Guwahati city after the Assam Targeted Surveillance Programme (ATSP), which aims to conduct 50,000 random tests in 11 days across the state, started last week.
“However, it is a matter of satisfaction that Assam’s recovery rate is 60.68 per cent, which is much higher than the national average of 58.24 per cent,” Sarma said.
He said that the 12-hour night curfew from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. would be imposed from Friday evening and strictest lockdown measures would be maintained in the first seven days of the 14-day lockdown.
The Health Minister advised the people that if anyone shows any Covid-19 symptom, he or she, except the aged people, can take rest and medical care at his/her home as in most cases, patients recover from the disease.
The minister said that medicine shops, hospitals, physiotherapy centres, railways, airliner services, banks, ATMs, telecommunication, power generation and transmission, transportation of essential goods, petrol pumps, media and hotels with quarantine facilities would remain functional.
Assam government secretariat, directorates of various departments with skeleton employees would remain open and critical infrastructure, including oil sector, would remain operational.
“The government was totally reluctant to re-promulgate total lockdown in Guwahati as it badly affected the economic and revenue aspects of both the government and common people, besides causing distress to all walks of life. But the alarming rise in Covid-19 cases in the community prompted the government to take the harsh step,” Sarma added.
“Please finish your shopping of essentials by Sunday,” the minister told the people.
In view of the sudden spike in coronavirus cases in Guwahati and other parts of the state, Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal reviewed the Covid-19 situation in Assam.
Sonowal said steps have been initiated to control the recent jump in cases, but if required more stringent measures would be taken to deal with the situation.