Assam sees record jump of 8 deaths, Covid cases at 13,336

Guwahati, Jul 08, 2020, IANS

Assam reported eight more Covid-19 deaths, highest so far in 24 hours, taking the death toll to 22 in the state, while the number of positive cases sharply rose to 13,336, health officials said here on Wednesday.

Of the eight fresh deaths, including two women, five people died at the Gauhati Medical College and Hospital while another 30-year-old patient died at Tezpur Medical College and a 19-year-old girl succumbed to the disease in Jorhat Medical College. A middle aged woman died at a hospital in Basistha, on the outskirts of Guwahati city.

The health officials said that the deceased patients have been suffering from severe anemia, septicaemia, severe pneumonia, diabetes and hypertension.

After sudden surge in coronavirus infections, the health department has started a door-to-door Covid-19 testing programme in Guwahati from Tuesday. Health Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma is personally monitoring the programme in the Pandu area of the Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC), and is asking people to cooperate, not panic.

The health department, which aimed to conduct 3,000 tests in the Ward No 2 (Pandu area), a Covid-19 hotspot, in two days, has already procured 200,000 rapid antigen testing kits for quick testing. "Among the 33,000 population in Pandu area, majority have no travel history. It caused concern to the authorities," said the officials.

"With a big rise in Covid-19 cases, Guwahati, is Assam and northeast India's main commercial city, has entered 'real pandemic phase' with community transmission being witnessed," the Health Minister had said. In just 11 days, the coronavirus cases in the Kamrup (Metro) district jumped to around 3,000 from 63.

Guwahati, headquarters of the Kamrup (Metro) district, is home to 11.20 lakh people. The state government announced a 14-day "complete lockdown" in the district from June 28 midnight to check the virus spread.

According to the officials, the number of Covid-19 cases in Assam climbed to 13,336. Of this, 4,585 are active as 8,726 people have been discharged, three migrated to other states and 22 people died.

Several districts have imposed bans on to and from journeys to Guwahati to prevent possible outbreak of community transmission.

Meanwhile, the Assam unit of the Indian Medical Association (IMA) has found deficiencies and impracticality with the way the state government has been handling the Covid-19 management. The IMA in a letter to the Health Minister said that increasing hospital beds without manpower planning would be a futile exercise as the state has very limited human resources in terms of doctors and health workers.

"IMA strongly protests the government's order of engaging health workers and doctors in 11 days continuous service in the Covid wards and thereafter, only three days of quarantine before re-engaging them in Covid-19 duties subject to testing negative for the disease," the IMA letter said.

Fearing that the government's decision would demoralise the frontline workers, the IMA opposed the decision to switch over to antigen tests for checking health workers engaged in COVID-19 duty. "The Indian Council for Medical Research had already mentioned this test was less sensitive and a negative test did not rule out COVID-19. Already a large number of doctors and health workers has fallen victim to COVID-19 and such unplanned and insensitive steps would further endanger the health workers. The time is not far away when doctors and health workers would have to serve the people with Covid-19 in their persons," the letter said.