Coronavirus | Sarma rules out lockdown in Assam

State to conduct more tests to allow Bihu celebrations, says Health Minister

Assam Health Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma has ruled out the imposition of another lockdown or night curfew in the State to check the spread of a new variant of the novel coronavirus.

But he said people in the State would celebrate the mid-April Rongali or Bohag Bihu festival with certain restrictions due to the “second wave” of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“There is no possibility of a lockdown. Bihu will be celebrated with fanfare, but we need to take precautions as the second wave of COVID-19 has started,” he told journalists on Thursday.

The month-long Rongali Bihu, marking the start of the Assamese New Year and characterised by a series of cultural events, could not be celebrated in 2020 due to the COVID-19 outbreak.

“The local artistes had suffered huge financial losses last year. We cannot let that happen again. We will conduct more tests and issue an SOP (standard operating procedure) for people to celebrate Bihu,” Dr. Sarma said.

One of the steps likely to be taken is to restrict the cultural programmes beyond 12 midnight. Such programmes during normal Bihu season carry on till close to dawn.

“We will follow the strategy of three Ts – test, track and trace. Although there is no need to panic now, people should remain alert. They should get themselves tested if they have the symptoms,” the Minister said.

He also said the government plans to conduct one lakh tests per day to detect people who could be infected. About 18,000 tests were conducted on Wednesday, he added.

On Wednesday, 195 people had tested positive for COVID-19, and 104 of them were from the Kamrup (Metro) district of which Guwahati is the headquarters. The number of infected people was 92 on Tuesday.

The State government had earlier made it mandatory for air passengers, travelling from Mumbai and Karnataka, to undergo the RT-PCR test in Assam even if they got themselves tested elsewhere. Tests were also made compulsory for train passengers arriving from or having travelled through Karnataka and Maharashtra.

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